Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 58 - Let's talk about culture and.....traffic in Cyprus


Mary shouts to the kids: Hurry up, I am late for the office…and she grabs the key, her bag, pushes the kids in the back seat and off she goes, speeding up to make good for the time she has lost ….kids are fighting in the back…her head is aching….why don’t the cars move on, everything is against her this morning….she takes a chance to overtake and whoom.


Ali is on his way to the construction site, he takes his mobile from his pocket to call his workers he has to pick up on the way, he calls them one by one while he is driving with one hand….his eyes are not on the cars in front of him….NO…he has to break abruptly….and the cars behind him bump into him, three cars.


Ayshe is in love, she has spent the night with her lover and had to leave him to go to the office. She checks her face in the mirror, yes, one can see that she is happy…and she takes her mobile and makes a ‘Selfie’ to send to the beloved one left behind…..she has overseen the red light…a car hits her at the driver’s side…. Is she dead?


The 15 years old son sits in his room gloomily, impatient and unhappy, life is passing him by; his friends are meeting at a certain place right now, and where is he? Parents are asleep. He takes the chance, gets the car keys, and he feels like a hero, free at last to join life….and he speeds off not caring with a thrill of anticipation …drives over a ramp and loses control, the wheel is knocked out of his hands…and the car overturns….Will he survive? Who is responsible?


Friends meet at the beach to celebrate a birthday; they drink heavily from the beer they have brought with them, they are young and they enjoy themselves, and as it gets cooler they decide to spend the rest of the evening at a disco…..who is first….and  laughing and speeding up and overtaking each other not noticing that there is a lonely figure on his bicycle, they knock him down, an innocent who is dead instantly, the others badly injured.


A last scenario: Mustafa has found a job as lorry driver, he is a good driver, and glad to have work again. He has loaded rocks from the quarry on the other side of Beşparmak mountains, a little overloaded….he takes the road down to the coast carefully….a sudden PENG, a tyre had burst, he has problems to control the vehicle, comes onto the other side, a car comes into view, he tries to steer into the ditch on his side….but it is too late….he knocks the small car over with three people inside….all dead. Is Mustafa guilty?


These scenarios show that these drivers causing accidents and even death are no criminals but normal people like you and me; they have forgotten to realize that their car is theoretically - and in their case quite obviously - a deadly weapon. There are many similar situations into which we as normal citizens can get without intending to harm anybody or trespass the law. We often have so much on our mind and with a car, where more or less everything is automatic, we drive along with an easy hand and mind. Our car becomes a private space, substitute for home, where we can do what we want and we behave in such a way, so we answer the mobile although we shouldn’t, we throw a glance into the mirror if the lipstick is ok; we feel superior to the others, my car is stronger, costs more money, I’ll show you what I can, I am in a race car, going for world cup; or we feel unhappy and unfairly treated by the partner in our life, by the boss, by life and think who cares….

Or….there are the innocent participants on the road as the secondary actors drawn into a play they never wanted to take part in, and often enough it ends with the main role as an injured person or with death. How tragic. How can a person live with the knowledge of having caused the death of innocent people.

The death of so many people on the roads of Cyprus has hit us all and it is for the first time that there is some unrest among us and the wish not to accept the situation any further. I mean, it is very good to request more security on the roads, punishment, more policemen, better roads, etc, but it is something else we need to learn from it, that is our attitude towards ‘the lightness of being’, daily luxury that is taken for granted, the responsibility we have given away to our administrative powers.  The only measure there is to reduce accidents on the road is education and self control, the sense to question ourselves…”am I doing right?” and not “the others have to do something”

There is a quote I like by Bruno Bettelheim: ‘Punishment may make us obey the orders we are given, but at best it will only teach obedience to authority, not a self-control which enhances our self-respect’.

Another thing I realised is that people have become more introverted, egocentric through the use of electronic gadgets, television; they have forgotten to observe the world outside their own vision. Things get mixed up, what is reality for them? Wrong symbols. Does a bigger and faster car make up for a better position in society? The only reason why people will one day remember you with love is for the good deeds you have done and for the respect you have shown them.

If my scenarios have not sufficed to shake you awake then just enter ‘traffic accidents’ on your computer and ‘images’ and you will find scenes that give you a proper shock.

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