The Green Light road safety organization decries the rise in traffic accident casualties above the government-targeted maximum. 

As of Dec. 28, the number of road accident victims in Israel for 2008 stood at 444 – an increase of 4% over the year before.  So reports the National Road Safety Authority.  This is the first time in four years that the annual traffic casualty count has not dropped. 

“Green Light” says the government failed to meet its goal of a 6% annual drop in traffic casualties.  “A gap of nearly 10% has been opened between the actual number of deaths and the targeted number for 2008,” stated Green Light Chairman Shmuel Abuhab. “According to the government plan, the number of casualties should not have been higher than 405.  This shows a grave failure in the government’s approach to traffic accidents.”

It cannot be ignored, however, that the tragic bus accident earlier this month in which 24 Russian tourists were killed - their bus careened into a ravine when its driver attempted a high-speed pass - was not the fault of the government.  Minus that accident, the number of casualties would have been 2.5% lower than the year before.  

“We have warned all year that not enough is being done to fight traffic accidents,” Abuhab said, “and in fact, the numbers are rising.  Only 20% of the 121 recommendations of the Shenin Committee were fully implemented. Yet the government only knows how to cut 200 million shekels from the budget of the fight to stop traffic accidents – the opposite of what should have been done. I very much hope that the government will now roll up its sleeves and start to fight this catastrophe with full force.”