Thursday, March 22, 2007

Traffic toll

One thing that Israel is known for is its bad drivers. Drivers seem to obey no rules, they speed, cut in and out, and cross red lights as if they are immune. All the time people walk about on the roads, especially in town, as if they are somehow protected by God, without even deigning to look at the traffic. They do this with children too, that really makes me mad, because not only are they risking the lives of their children, but they are teaching the next generation to ignore all traffic danger.
In the past three weeks there has been an unbelievable carnage on our roads. Terrorism pales in comparison. Three weeks ago 18 were killed in one week, then 12, and this week so far 10. Two of the worst accidents, two weeks ago a truck ploughed into the back of a car that apparently wasn't going fast enough for the driver, killing a Rabbi and wife and injuring one of their children, leaving 8 orphans. Last week a driver under the influence of drugs and drink, that is happening more frequently here (with the immigration of 1 million Russians), ran a red light and smashed into a car killing 6, including his twin brother who was in the passenger seat.
The Government has convened a special Committee to urgently see what can be done. But, there is no simple answer. Yes, it needs money and the improvement of the roads, but the roads are incomparably better than they were. There are many improvement projects on the roads, they just opened the crossover at the Gelilot junction north of Tel Aviv that allows traffic to turn east towards Jerusalem without stopping. Also they are building a bridge over the railway line outside Netanya where a train crashed into a truck at a level crossing some months ago. But, these improvements don't seem to affect the traffic toll. Yes, it needs education, to make the young realize that they must obey traffic rules. But, all this is being done and nothing seems to work. Last year over 400 people were killed, that's more than one a day!
The basic problem is that many Israelis drive as they live, cutting corners and as fast as they can. There is the attitude that the rules are advisory only, and there is a lack of consideration that is truly frightening. If cars are behind you in a line, you can expect them to immediately try to overtake, even where there is no room. If you leave a gap between you and the car in front, someone pops into it. Yes, it is dangerous driving on our roads.
What are the reasons for this situation. One reason is that many of the drivers have been in wars, have been in great danger, and have even driven tanks, and so ignore the danger on the road. Another reason is that the police in Israel simply don't do their jobs. They take the same attitude as the drivers. There are plenty of laws, but they are not properly enforced. There are speed cameras, but not enough and apparently they are not being used. Another reason I'm sad to say is the general Jewish attitude, that it doesn't matter. As long as my family is OK, who cares about anyone else. I know this is the opposite to what we have come to expect of Jewish compassion and human concern, but my friends, that's the reality! I wish it weren't so, but on our roads it is.
[By the way, in the past some people have criticized me for presenting only the positive side of Israel. That is certainly not the case, as this and several recent articles about corruption in politics and bureaucracy here show.]
PS. The national strike lasted only half a day, a resolution was negotiated, and the England fans will be able to land!


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