Hypocrisy piles up

The recent, deadly pileup on the Athens-to-Thessaloniki highway unleashed a barrage of scattershot accusations. The outrage will likely die down soon, only to re-emerge after the next accident. It goes to show that hypocrisy remains one of the main driving forces of human behavior. Hypocrisy is all-powerful, for it allows anyone to pass the blame to someone else. Building a new road is not some neutral, technocratic decision. While many kilometers of road have been constructed over the past few years, works in the Maliakos Gulf have stalled because some major economic interests are at stake. Plans for an underwater tunnel in the area never materialized, as they were deemed too expensive. That idea was also shot down by local business people fearing that a traffic diversion would cut their profits. Road tolls are one of the biggest sources of revenue in Greece. Most of the Athens-to-Thessaloniki highway also has easy access to petrol stations, restaurants and cafes. Furthermore, carving a new highway can be a fiendishly complicated project, especially when it involves paying huge compensation to landowners and fighting lengthy legal battles. Supposedly in order to meet its obligations, the state reduces speed limits instead. The maximum speed limit along certain stretches of the so-called national highway is a paltry 40 kph. The hypocrisy then peaks after an accident has occurred. The same people who for years opposed the project to keep their customers are now shedding crocodile tears over the fate of the drivers. The public’s expressions of concern are no less misguided: Deep down, everyone blames the accident on the drivers’ poor road skills. We think that in such circumstances, we would have escaped unharmed. Those who died were probably just as confident.

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