mofaz good 224 88 .
(photo credit: Defense Ministry )
A six-year-old boy killed in a car accident in Netivot Tuesday was the 87th child and the 332nd person to die on the roads this year.
"Why, just a boy and at his age? He is so young," a family member told Israel Radio. "Why do so many people die in accidents here?"
That question was at the heart of Knesset debates Tuesday, as MKs held a series of meetings in honor of the International Day for Road Safety.
"We have been doing better, but it is not good enough," Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee. "I am laying out a new path for Israelis to become safer drivers.
Mofaz announced his intention to cancel the current program and institute a point system by which drivers would be given a fixed number of points upon receiving their licenses, and have points deducted for driving offenses. If a driver loses all his points, he will be required to take a written exam and road test to reinstate the license.
The Transportation Ministry would also put an end to defensive driving courses, which Mofaz said were largely ineffective.
To highlight the country's worst traffic offenders, from January to March of 2008, the ministry will take the 100 worst drivers of each month off the streets.
"This is an extremely important issue, it is a danger that kills Israelis each week," said Mofaz. "We must battle it head-on, with the [same] seriousness in which we conduct all our battles."
Nearly every Knesset committee held a discussion on road safety.
In the past decade, a number of tactics have been adopted by the Transportation Ministry to try and improve road safety. Dozens of programs have been introduced to penalize bad drivers, educate new drivers and keep drunk drivers off the road. In the process, billions of shekels have been spent - and a steady decrease in the number of road deaths has been the reward.
From 2006-2007 there was a 4-percent decrease in road accident fatalities, while the year before saw a drop of 7%.
Despite the steadily decreasing number of car fatalities over the past four years, government officials and activists said that not enough was being done.
The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee discussed the safety of soldiers in military vehicles, while the Committee on the Status of Women heard a report on why women get into fewer car accidents than men. The Committee on the Rights of the Child advised giving new parents classes on child car safety, and the Committee on the Diaspora and Immigration discussed road safety classes for new immigrants.
The legislature's State Control Committee released a report recommending that the state invest NIS 150 million in enhancing road safety, and Mofaz requested that additional millions be added to the 2008 state budget for transportation. Even the Committee on the Interior and the Environment, which was discussing bike paths, raised the issue of how to assure the safety of bicyclists on the roads.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss issued his own criticism on the subject on Tuesday, saying that "the laws against traffic offenders are good, but the punishments are not carried out properly."
Speaking at the State Control Committee, Lindenstrauss said that "drivers with dozens of violations return to the streets, and the fines that the court imposes are not appropriate for the war on traffic accidents."