Traffic accident
Traffic accidentIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The number of fatal traffic accidents dropped to a 23-year low in 2008, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has reported. The CBS findings were released Monday in advance of national Traffic Safety Awareness Day on Tuesday.

While 2008 had the lowest number of accidents in decades, the number of fatalities was up by eight percent from 2007, due to a fatal bus crash near Eilat in which 24 people were killed. The crash was the biggest mass-casualty traffic accident in the country since Israel's creation.

In an encouraging find, the CBS revealed that 2009 has seen both fewer accidents than 2008, and fewer fatalities. There were 210 fatal accidents with a total of 232 people killed between January and September 2009, a drop of over 25 percent from the 282 accidents and 319 fatalities reported between January and September of 2008.

One-third of those killed in crashes were pedestrians, and elderly citizens were particularly vulnerable, the CBS report showed. The majority of pedestrian crash victims were hit while crossing the street at a crosswalk.

Arab children were at unusually high risk of becoming traffic fatalities, the report found. While roughly 25 percent of the children in Israel are Arab, 68 percent of child traffic fatalities were Arab.

Male drivers were more likely than female drivers to be involved in fatal accidents. While female drivers make up 41 percent of Israel's population of licensed drivers, only nine percent of the drivers involved in fatal crashes were women.

Drivers under the age of 24 were disproportionately likely to be involved in traffic accidents, including fatal crashes, as were Arab drivers. Elderly drivers were found not to be a particular risk – the percent of drivers over the age of 65 involved in traffic accidents with an injured party was 19 percent less than their percent in the total population of drivers.