Carnage on our roads...
Sir, – The driver of the vehicle involved in last
week’s minibus-train crash had, according to police, 11 traffic violations over
the past eight years (“Minibustrain crash victims laid to rest in Jerusalem,”
August 8). This, in my view (and, I suspect, the view of the vast majority of
Israeli citizens), constitutes a substantial number of violations for a driver
over whatever period of time.
It would seem, however, that this view is
sadly not shared by the Israel Police, who put out a statement saying that 11
arrests over eight years is not a lot.
Quite clearly, if this is the
opinion of the authorities, it would be illuminating to ascertain from them as
to what in their opinion would constitute an acceptable average number of
arrests for traffic violations per driver per year.JEFFREY GILBERT
Sir, – I was a professional delivery driver in Israel for two years. I
hate driving in this country. People are dangerous.
I don’t drive much
any more, relatively speaking. I see people talking on their phones, speeding to
“catch the light” even though the light is red by the time they arrive. I see
people miss the proper lane to turn and simply stop in an adjacent lane in order
to jump in when the lane gets a green light.
That is what I now see in
three hours of driving a week. Imagine what I saw in those two years of
full-time driving.MATTHEW BERMAN
Herzliya ...and solutions
Sir, – There
is only one way to bring down the carnage on our roads – bring down the maximum
speed limit to 80 kph.
There is no other way.
Also, traffic cops
on motorcycles to patrol the highways would help. Sure, business profits might
come down due to lower speeds, but the saving of human lives is more
As a driver with over 70 years of accident-free driving in
many different countries, I can assure you there is no other way.HAROLD
Sir, – This terrible tragedy, which is one of ever so many at
train crossings, requires that we reconsider safety arrangements to enable
trains to stop in time.
It is true that there is a series of signs at
intervals warning drivers that they are approaching a train crossing with a
barrier, but, like all road signs in this country, they are very often ignored.
The driver, as is alleged in this case, was engaged in conversation with his
passengers and presumably ignored the warnings.
The solution appears to
be to stop traffic at a sufficient distance from train crossings to enable train
engineers to stop in an emergency. The road should be clearly painted with
markings to highlight the prohibited zone.
Electronic eyes in the long
stretch up to the crossing should flash a message to the engineer, telling him
to brake immediately if there is any presence in the “prohibited
The aforementioned proposal is not expensive but would no doubt be
very unpopular with the Ministry of Transport, whose overriding aim is to keep
traffic moving as fast as possible to avoid congestion on our
Sir, – It is clear that the system of
fragile barriers at train crossings is an invitation to some drivers to “have a
go” and beat the descending gate. A simple, cheap and effective alternative
would be to install solid concrete sliding gates that would prevent
Sir, – In his article (“From the railway crossing
to Vision Zero,” August 8), Elihu D. Richter suggests many ways to cut the
number of traffic fatalities and injuries.
They are all very good, but he
misses the most obvious: We must get dangerous, reckless drivers off the
When police say that the driver of the minibus had 11 traffic
violations in eight years and suggest that’s not so much, I have to wonder how
many violations a driver must have before he loses his license
Until the courts and police treat traffic violators with
strong measures, the carnage will continue.TAMI SIMON
Sir, – I
cannot fathom why the government would consider lowering the age for licensing
young drivers (“Radical road reform will see younger drivers, fewer lessons but
longer ‘chaperone’ period,” August 6).
I’ve long maintained that
teenagers’ judgment skills are not fully developed and lag far behind their
ability to master technical matters (such as driving skills). In fact, according
to a Time magazine cover story on the adolescent brain several years ago, the
part of the brain that is the last to develop is, in fact, the part responsible
for judgment skills. So what’s the point in lowering the age in which they can
receive a license? In my opinion, a basic licensing requirement for anyone under
even 23 years of age should also include a threemonth stint at a rehab facility
such as Alyn or Bet Levenstein, where the applicants could actually see the
results of car accidents. Volunteering once or twice a week for such a period
would, hopefully, sober all or most of them up.
Finally, according to
your paper, the driver responsible for the accident that killed seven family
members had been arrested for 11 driving violations in the past eight years, a
number the police said was not especially high. Huh? Compared to what?
Rehovot Coordination needed
Sir, – If it is true that the US government
has been putting pressure on Turkey that, if there are to be better ties with
Washington, it must improve the atmosphere with Israel (“Tilting the
Turkey-Israel-US triangle,” Diplomacy, August 6), then what does British Prime
Minister David Cameron think he was doing by indulging in public Israel bashing
in Ankara on his recent visit? As it so happens, both Obama and Cameron missed
the opportunity to tell the Turkish prime minister that if he wants better ties
with the US, he should immediately adopt EU sanctions against Iran and stop
providing it with refined petroleum products and filling the hole left by former
Thanks to this lack of coordination in US-EU policy,
Turkey gets away Scot-free yet again.PETER SIMPSON
Sir, – Does Avraham Burg really expect to be taken seriously (“Burg to form
joint Arab-Jewish party,” August 4)? Any credibility he may have had went out
the window when, opting for French citizenship, he urged Israelis to obtain a
A maneuver such as this begs the question: Does Burg
have any place whatsoever in Israeli society? Adding insult to injury, he
accuses Israeli politicians, presently beset with national problems of immense
magnitude, of being “boring.” As he readily admits, he has no wish to re-enter
politics, preferring instead to remain in the business world. I suggest he does
just that.DAVID S. ADDLEMAN
Mevaseret Zion All in due time
Gershon Baskin (“The audacity of not losing hope,” August 3) suggests that
Israelis are happy with the status quo and that “in the West Bank, Palestinians
are enjoying security and calm which they have never known.” He also concludes
that the “new-found stability has created economic growth [in the West Bank]
which provides the same sense of ‘leave us alone and let us live.’” And what
does Baskin write next? “The next generation of Palestinian leaders is likely to
be less moderate, less pragmatic and less willing to accept the limitations of
the only existing solution.”
I ask: Who has lost hope?