After a weekend of unspeakable carnage on Israel's roads an emergency meeting was convened Sunday morning by Traffic Police head Cmdr. Avi Ben-Hemo who decided on the following measures: Increase patrol cars, bolster weekend and nighttime shifts and embark on emergency recruitment of volunteers.
It is only when multiple collisions with multiple deaths occur that there is an outcry in the press and from the establishment.The horrific crash on Shabbat in which a father and daughter on their way to vacation were killed and the mother and son seriously injured when hit by a semi trailer, whose driver reportedly had 190 previous violations, has shocked the country - again.
The question is: How does a driver get away with so many violations and still stay on the road?
Who is to blame and why?
Ben-Hemo is quoted as saying " the police are unable to remove from the roads those drivers who commit repeated traffic offences."
He did not explain why when a violator is pulled over and handed a report, the police cannot include in that report what the central database says about the culprit's previous violations. There are no guidelines for dealing with dangerous drivers. There is no requisite punishment for a specific number of violations. When the culprit appears in court the judges can give any sentence or fine they see fit and very often they take into consideration the livelihood of the driver.
They must be forced to take into consideration the livelihood and future well being of those who have been hurt or worse.
Also clever lawyers can very often twist the statements of the policemen at the scene.
In this particular case, the driver reportedly stated that the car had braked suddenly. If so, then he was tailgating - in itself an offence - and the family car had no chance against the weight of his vehicle.
Truck drivers are involved in three times the amount of road collisions. They are not always culpable but are inevitably under stress to please their employers. The premium system demands deliveries on time no matter what the road conditions or they do not get paid. They also do not dare to refuse to work overtime, despite efforts to enact regulations to limit their hours.
In Europe, the maximum speed for truckers is 80kp/h empty and 70kp/h loaded. They are also required to stay in the right lane. In Israel, a truck is only required to travel at 10kp/h less than the speed limit. Staying in the right lane is unheard of, mainly because of a lack of personnel to monitor it. Here, overloading is a constant problem, despite the weighing and checking at the ports.
Edna Zunz, a leader of the bereaved families group Anashim B'Adom, who lost her son in a similar crash says "MK Gilad Erdan is trying to legislate a law that will take away a driver's license and vehicle after 3 serious violations." Ketzinei bitichut (security officers) which a company with more than 40 vehicles is required to have by law, are sometimes sanctioned or silenced when they report irregularities in the vehicles' condition.
Getting back to the "emergency" regulations.
By all means increase the patrols, the nighttime shifts and the volunteers. However, everyone knows there's no budget for that and even the efforts of traffic safety group Or Yarok has not produced the volunteers needed to create a serious presence on our roads.
Finally, where are the cameras?
They would act as a deterrent to speeding and take dangerous, overworked, overstressed and reckless drivers off our roads.
Zelda Harris is the Founder and PR Director for Chaim B'derech Metuna.