Dec 8, 2005

Greek road rage

I can't understand it.

Greeks are a friendly, hospitable lot.

Why is it that you get one behind a steering wheel, they turn into Linda Blair from "The Exorcist"? They hiss at pedestrians, spit green slimy muck at other drivers, chant Beelzebubian at traffic lights?

Why do we refuse to acknowledge basic rules of safety and etiquette within the metal confines of our vehicles?

Why have we acquired a genetic "KILL-KILL-KILL-don't-scratch-the-paint-job" instinct?

Driver ON the road and ON his/her cell phone: "Wait a minute there's a moron in front of me doing the legal speed limit",
"Move OOOOO-VER imbecile... My car can do 140 kmph and you're holding me back"!

Funny part is that 9 out 10 times you rendezvous with Speedy Gonzaleth at the next traffic light. They pretend not to see you because they did not voluntarily WANT to stop but were forced to because of the OTHER moron in front who was too chicken to ignore the red light!

"How did things get so ugly? In areas as congested as central Athens, keeping traffic moving often takes precedence over patrolling against those who violate the road rules. When law enforcement officials turn a blind eye to traffic infringements, drivers establish between themselves an unwritten code of acceptable behaviour. The net result often bears closer resemblance to the regulations at a demolition derby than anything you learned in drivers-ed.

Once ingrained, habits of non-compliance are difficult to break. As a trip down any of Greece’s main thoroughfares will prove, excessive speeding, tailgating, reckless passing, laying on the horn, flashing "brights", and offering up antagonistic hand gestures have become as commonplace as stopping at a red light. Combine aggressive driving with poor roads and high levels of congestion in both the cities and outlying areas and you get what Greece had until 2001, i.e. unprecedented and mounting trafficking fatality rates."


Note to self and all blog friends wishing to visit/already living in Greece: If you absolutely don't have to drive while in Athens, save yourself the aggravation and use the public transportation instead.

Oh, and if you think our driving is bad... you should check out our Greek parking!

Check out this short flash animation by cartoonist Bruno Bozzetto.