OPINION

Common sense vital for road safety

As a Greek American, I was grateful and honored that you decided to publish my letter to you on «The fruits of a bankrupt society» (June 8). Yet after reading a letter from another subscriber on road fatalities, I feel compelled to say something. Her comments include a charge of lack of enforcement of street laws by the government. That charge is not accurate in my humble opinion. When I return to Greece every year, I spend time in Varkiza. During the evenings, the roads, with its cliffside twists and turns, become a favorite raceway for the local Greek youths. There are police there, but perhaps just a handful of constables are present, versus the several hundred Greek youths with small aggressive sporty cars racing and turning on these roads. In my case, as a Greek visiting his heritage, my response to these young aggressive youths is simple, «My car is a rental.» When they hear this, they back off. But I wonder, and my question to your reader is, where are the parents of these youths with their fast cars? What action are they taking on their children to ensure that the road laws are obeyed? J.W. DECLARIS, Laurel, Maryland, USA. I refer to the letter on road discipline published on your English Internet pages on June 8. With all due respect to my fellow reader, I cannot but disagree with her assertion that it is the state’s role to ensure that every single road law enacted by the Greek Parliament be enforced in its entirety. The notion of requiring the Greek state to perform such a function insinuates that the Greek driver and public in general have no mind of their own and do not know how to apply good road ethics and safety. How long will it take the average Greek driver to learn that road safety is not meant to be monitored by the Greek state (through the police force) but rather that it is meant to be enforced by the Greek public? Having lived in Athens for over two years and having driven in that city, I am not at all surprised by the recent road deaths of two police officers. More useless and senseless deaths are caused by general indifference, lack or responsibility and misguided sense of freedom. The attitudes of drivers in Athens, I found, were generally that of carelessness. No regard was given to stop signs and other road ordinances. I even found myself in a position of being mocked and sworn at for stopping at a stop sign. Another time, a careless driver blamed me for a near accident when that driver drove through a stop sign without stopping. Does my fellow reader really propose that at each traffic light and stop sign in Athens a traffic officer be assigned? Can the Greek state and the Greek taxpayer afford such an expense? I think the questions that generally need to be asked about Greek society are rather more fundamental and deep-rooted. When will Greek society take responsibility for its own actions? When will it begin to enforce the laws of the land through its own will and knowledge? When will this society realize that it, and not the state, has the main responsibility of enforcing and maintaining laws and regulations and general ethics? For when the state is blamed for everything, I fear that society has lost its sense of true freedom, responsibility and respect, firstly to itself, then to other members of the same society and thirdly to the state. After 3,000 years of history, has Greek society really ended up being a child that cries continuously and needs a nanny to monitor its every move? I can only hope I have come to the wrong conclusion. Does Greek society, however, have the nerve to ask itself such questions? Does it truly understand that true freedom is not only doing want one wants, but also accepting responsibility opposite others? It is always a pleasure reading the English version of your newspaper. Keep up the good standards. VASILIS PETROLEKAS, London, UK.