The English language version of Kathimerini had this to say this morning:
Residents and professional organizations on Crete yesterday blamed the slow progress of road construction in the north of the island for dozens of road fatalities in recent years, following the death at the weekend of three people in a head-on collision.
Locals complain that it has taken 20 years and three tranches of European Union funding to build 50 kilometers of a 312-kilometer road network in the island’s north. “The island’s road network is of a Third World standard,” the president of the Technical Chamber of Greece’s western Crete office, Antonis Pitaridakis, told Kathimerini. “Our so-called national road network is narrow, dangerous, poorly lit and badly maintained,” he added.
“Crete is in urgent need of new roads, otherwise lives will continue to be lost,” said Yiannis Lionakis, director of the ELPA road assistance group in Iraklion. He said the number of cars on Cretan roads has increased nearly sixfold to 600,000 over the past 40 years but the roads have not been upgraded to handle the extra traffic.
I would be the first to admit that road improvements are important what with the growing number of cars on our roads every year. But at the same time I can’t help asking myself the drivers on the Cretan roads:
- Might wearing the seat belt for once maybe reduce the number of fatalities caused by road accidents? When I drive from Iraklio to Chania at the west end of the northern stretch of said “National Road”, I can count the number of you wearing a seat belt on one hand (barring the tourists).
- Would it maybe help if you used your direction indicators as they are intended to be used? Nobody (except the tourists once again) seems to be aware of the existence of that little handle at the steering wheel, let alone what to use it for. How did you get your driver’s license? What did you learn at those driving schools?
- Maybe looking in the rear mirrors once in a while might give you a better idea of the co-occupants of the same road? Yes, there are other people using this road. Really, it’s not laid out there just for you. Rear mirrors? I know, you thought those were meant to check how good you look. They are not.
- Do you really have to park on the shoulder to pick some flowers or check your olive trees? I know it is hard to believe that this space has not been constructed to accommodate your personal needs or whims, but really, look it up, it was meant for something else. Believe me, the European Union does not fund your personal parking spots along the highway.
- The white lines on the asphalt? Yes, you are supposed to drive between them, not over them. Trust me, contrary to your own beliefs, your car is not that big, it easily fits between those lines.
- And finally, maybe, just maybe, could you stop continuously blabbering on the damn mobile phone for hours on end while driving? It might help you concentrate on the traffic and avoid those accidents.
To paraphrase the president of the Technical Chamber of Greece’s western Crete office, Antonis Pitaridakis: “The island’s driver’s attitude is of a Third World standard”. Then of course, it’s easier to look for the blame outside. And complaining has always be free. Go ahead complain some more, maybe a strike would be appropriate? A blockade of the roads perhaps, preferably in high season? Whatever you do, avoid at all costs — even if that cost is your own life — to take responsibility for your own actions.
There, I said it.