police car 298.88.
(photo credit: Channel 10)
On a day in which two people were killed and two seriously injured after being struck by vehicles, the Transportation Ministry announced the enactment of a new regulation that would allow police officers to immediately confiscate vehicles whose drivers committed serious offenses, including hit-and-run collisions.
As of Thursday, officers can now confiscate the vehicle on the scene of the offense, and impound it for 30-60 days at one of seven facilities throughout the country. The vehicle's owner will be expected to foot the bill for the hundreds-to- thousands of shekels worth of towing and storage expenses.
Offenses for which officers can remove the vehicle from the road include drunk driving, new drivers driving without an adult accompanying them, driving in a vehicle which had already been ordered off the road due to safety violations, unregistered vehicles, vehicles of drivers whose driver's license was revoked, and vehicles involved in hit-and-run accidents.
Commercial vehicles carrying loads over the listed weight for the vehicle can also be seized, as can commercial vehicles whose drivers have surpassed the legal limit for driving without rest.
In all of these cases, the vehicle can be impounded whether or not the driver is also the vehicle's owner.
This last aspect, traffic police say, has special importance in combating the phenomenon of young adult drunk drivers.
"If I'm a father and my army-age son takes the car and goes out for a night of partying, I'll be much more strict about his behavior if I know that it could cost me my vehicle, which I need on a daily basis to go to work," said Ch.-Supt. Ya'akov Cohen, commander of the Shfela District Traffic Police, in explaining the importance of the law.
"It's an important law that offers a serious response to drunk driving. This law has teeth, and we've noticed in the past that if offenders don't receive a painful punishment, they never learn."
Cohen's district is in the midst of an operation to pinpoint and mete out punishment for major traffic violations that have been seen to lead to serious accidents in the area's cities.
In Rishon Lezion, police issued over 950 traffic citations to both drivers and pedestrians in four days.
"We looked at the collision statistics in the area, analyzing days, numbers, cities, times, and set up operations accordingly. In Rishon Lezion, we noticed that there was an increase in pedestrians injured in collisions, mainly because of failure to yield right of was and cross in marked crosswalks."
As well as issuing citations, police also tried to educate the public about proper crossing etiquette.
Lectures were given in the past months to at-risk groups including youth and the elderly, and during the past week police distributed flyers in Russian, Amharic and Hebrew, instructing pedestrians on proper ways to cross the street.
A special team, Cohen said, including traffic inspectors and police engineers, patrols the city at least once a month to locate potential risks, such as poorly-marked crosswalks or obstructive plantings that endanger pedestrians.