3,000 urban accidents blamed on drivers running red lights

Shmuel Abuav, CEO of Or Yarok, said the tendency of Israeli drivers to ignore red lights had taken on epidemic proportions.

January 26, 2010 00:33
1 minute read.
Red light

red light traffic light 58. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Three thousand traffic accidents in Israel's largest cities between 2007 and 2009 were caused by drivers running red lights, according to a new study by the Or Yarok (Green Light) road safety organization, published this week.

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Road accidents caused by disregarding traffic lights made up more than half of all accidents in the 20 largest Israeli cities, the study said.

Shmuel Abuav, CEO of Or Yarok, said the tendency of Israeli drivers to ignore red lights had taken on epidemic proportions.

"[It] has turned into a national problem, which exacts a costly price in blood. It is one of the four most common offenses," he said.

Abuav added that the offense was "one of the most dangerous kinds. This is a gamble with one's life. It's entering a danger zone despite being aware of the risk."

Or Yarok's study said that in Israel's five biggest cities - Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rishon Lezion and Ashdod - 1,925 road accidents over a two-year period were attributed to disregard for traffic lights.

In Tel Aviv alone, 777 accidents were blamed on the offense, while 456 traffic accidents in Jerusalem were linked to a failure to heed a light.

Or Yarok cited a survey carried out by the Geocartography Institute which found that 70 percent of respondents, members of general public, reported having seen a motorist run a red light over the past year. The respondents said the offense was likely caused by an attempt by the driver to make the light before it changed from yellow to red.

Some 60% of respondents said they did not expect police to penalize drivers who ignored red lights.

"This worrying figure shows that police enforcement ... does not carry a sufficient deterrence," Or Yarok said.

"Police enforcement must be increased, and more cameras should be installed near traffic lights. Today, there are only 47 cameras installed at Israel's 1,000 traffic junctions with lights. The cameras will contribute to deterrence and cause drivers to think twice before driving into a junction during a red light," Abuav said.

The Traffic Police declined to comment.

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