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(photo credit: Defense Ministry )
Following a weekend in which nine people were killed in traffic accidents, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday he will develop a five-year-plan to reduce road deaths by 30 percent.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday rescinded the government's decision to cut approximately NIS 150 million from the 2008 road-safety budget. He asked Mofaz to update the cabinet every three months regarding road safety and measures taken to increase it. The government had not devoted attention to the subject for a long time, Olmert said.
During Sunday's cabinet meeting, Mofaz summarized his ministry's activities during 2007 to boost road safety and reduce traffic accidents. He said there had been a 9% reduction in fatal crashes last year, indicative of a positive trend in accident prevention.
Mofaz said it was important to invest more heavily in public transportation and road infrastructure. He called for an increase of almost 100% in the budget for road improvement.
Mofaz said there were four ways in which he hoped to make roads safer: heavier penalties for driving infractions, more police presence and enforcement, granting more powers to local government in mandating and enforcing traffic laws, and updating the point system for driving offenses.
Mofaz said there had been a serious increase in the percentage of collisions involving Israeli Arabs. He said the National Road Safety Authority had prepared an NIS 22 million emergency plan to reduce that phenomenon. Recent research presented by Or Yarok indicated that the rate of Arab youngsters' involvement in road accidents was 2.5 times higher than among young Jewish drivers.
On Wednesday, Or Yarok, the National Road Safety Authority and the Education Ministry plan to hold a road-safety convention for the Israeli Arab community. Israeli Arab soccer star Abbas Suan and some 100 Israeli Arab youths who act as "family moderators" of young drivers will take part.
As part of the organizations' efforts to reach the Israeli Arab sector, the volunteers will instruct families of new drivers on ways to effectively exploit the period of accompanying drivers.
Meanwhile on Sunday, eight people were lightly injured in a collision between two cars at the Megiddo junction and another six people were seriously injured in a crash on the Jordan Valley Road.