Tragedy on Highway 90
Tragedy on Highway 90MDA spokesperson

Over 330 people have been killed on Israel’s roads so far this year, and according to the director of the Or Yarok road safety organization, it’s time to do something about it.

“We should be declaring a state of emergency regarding what’s happening on our roads,” Tzvika Beer told Kikar Hashabbat. “The government already has a coronavirus cabinet – that’s what we need for road safety, too, in order to make this issue something that all government departments are dealing with and taking seriously.”

Beer notes that, “The government has increased the budget for dealing with dangerous spots from NIS 20 million to NIS 230 million, and it’s also investing more in public transportation, which is important, but it’s not enough. On Highway 90, for instance, which is being used a lot more now with people traveling to Eilat or the Dead Sea for a vacation instead of traveling abroad, most of the road is a single lane in each direction without a median strip. Action needs to be taken to ensure that even if a driver makes a mistake, he doesn’t pay for it with his life.”

Beer also explains that the issue of road safety isn’t just a question of lives, but also of national finances. “According to Bank of Israel figures, road accidents cost the economy NIS 15 billion per year. Taking again Highway 90 as an example, where around ten people are killed and hundreds are injured every single year – if the state invests in it, at the end of the day it will get its money back, money that would instead have been spent on dealing with the wounded and those killed.”

Those involved in road accidents fall disproportionately into two groups – motorcyclists and drivers of heavy goods vehicles. “So far this year, over 80 motorcyclists have been killed on Israel’s roads,” Beer says, “and around half of them weren’t involved in a collision with another vehicle at all. What we should be doing is erecting safety barriers on the roads, and this will go a long way to decreasing the number of people killed in such accidents.”

With regard to the other category of accidents, Beer points out an absurd situation that exists in Israel: “In the rest of the world, use of a digital tachograph has become common since 2006. This is a device that transmits information from the vehicle to the authorities, enabling them to monitor drivers and their compliance with road regulations governing speed restrictions and also driving and rest periods. However, unbelievably, trucks that are imported into Israel have their digital tachographs removed and a manual device installed instead! This is something that should be rectified immediately in order to bring about an immediate reduction in the number of accidents involving these types of vehicles.”