As High Holidays approach, police urge safety and caution among Israeli drivers

Traffic police have not issued any notice of special traffic preparations for the upcoming holidays, however, a spokesman told the 'Post' there would be a public notice in the coming days.

September 27, 2016 18:40
2 minute read.
Dizengoff st. traffic

Dizengoff St. traffic. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

As the high holidays approach a string of crashes on Israel’s highways illustrates safety concerns Israeli drivers will face on their holiday commutes.

On Tuesday morning a large crash on Route 31 near Bersheeba injured 23 people, including a baby who suffered multi-system trauma and a man in his twenties with a serious head injury, while, a 27 year-old woman was wounded moderately, 20 others were lightly injured.

Hana Rozolio a paramedic called the incident a "A serious accident.” Mogen David Adom teams arrived at the scene rescued the unconscious baby girl of about seven months and evacuated her along with 12 others the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

This came a day after Israelis were shocked by the double-tragedy death of great grandmother Rivka Toledan, 83 , and her daughter, Esther Asayag, 56, who succumbed on Tuesday and Sunday respectively to their injuries from a crash on Route 70. Since the beginning of the year 273 people have died in car accidents, this is up from 260 for the entirety of 2015. The National Road Safety Authority has a goal of no more than 245 traffic fatalities per year by 2020.

According to a spokeswoman for Ore Yarok (Green Light) an Israeli NGO that promotes driver safety and seeks to reduce traffic accidents, highways 70 and 31 in northern and southern Israel are generally more dangerous. “A lot of people are getting killed on these roads,” she said.

Ore Yarok contends that there are not enough traffic police to properly protect Israeli drivers generally - a problem that is exacerbated during holidays when many Israelis travel to visit family. “There is not enough enforcement on the street and not enough police cars to be ready the for the rise of cars and people in the streets,” the spokeswoman said, “This is not only on Rosh Hashana, but every day.”

The traffic police have not issued any notice of special traffic preparations for the upcoming holidays, however, a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post there would be a public notice in the coming days.

Tel Aviv is preparing for a large influx of visitors stating that roads and parking lots will be “jammed packed” over the high holidays. The police are also concerned about an increase in drunk driving. “During the holidays there will be amplified police patrols... there will be stepped up supervision on the roads and police will enforce the prevention of drunken driving on the roads,” the Tel Aviv District police said in a statement, “Police will be widely deployed on the roads to handle the control and direction of movement and for maximum reduction of road accidents.”

According to Police, the Waze navigation will also be updated during the holidays to help drivers navigate the holiday chaos.

In Jerusalem police are stepping up activity, mostly security measures, for Rosh Hashana, traffic will be closed to non-resident vehicles seeking to enter through the Old City through Jaffa Gate.

Ore Yarok suggests that drivers remain aware of driver fatigue and alcohol consumption. “People should rest before driving, and be careful of drinking a lot of wine on Rosh Hashana eve,” the spokeswoman said.

According to a 2015 report on world traffic safety by the World Health Organization and based on 2013 data, Israel has one of the world’s lowest rates of traffic fatalities at 3.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

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