Road safety – a Greek oxymoron

Road safety – a Greek oxymoron

I love Greeks, I have been married to one for 25 years, but I still don’t understand them.

When we moved from Australia to the Peloponnese a few years ago, I arrived with a long-held belief that Greeks cherish their family above everything else.

But why do they put their children’s lives at risk every day?

Three people from one street in our village have died in nearby road accidents in three years.

This dance with death starts from the cradle. Babies are taken in cars without protective capsules. Mothers are seen cradling their defenseless newborns in the front seat of cars with toddlers catapulting on the back seat or sitting on the driver’s lap.

Parents don’t lead by example and seat belts never provide a protective embrace.

It is common to see a small child on a motor bike nestled between a father’s legs. One sudden swerve and the “light of their life” could be sent flying across the road.

Helmets are a novelty and only worn by competitive cyclists on their annual marathon.

Locals ride motor bikes while drinking a frappe or texting, sometimes they try to manage both with varying degrees of dexterity. It isn’t unusual to see men scooting around carrying ladders or farm equipment.

As an initiation into manhood, some boys who reach double digits in age are given motor scooters which they ride riotously at all hours, even on school nights. They are underage, unlicensed, unregistered and uninsured.

In other countries all the antics mentioned above are criminal offenses and would be dealt with accordingly. Here they are just a part of everyday life.
There seems to be no connection between parental love and protection of life. I struggle to understand this phenomenon. The usual response to the issue is that everyone thinks it won’t happen to them.

They believe in fate, not road safety.

Karen Reichelt is an Australian writer and author of “Extra Virgin.”

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