Can Facebook fix Israeli drivers?

Learn from India, the world leader in bad driving.

By DOV PREMINGER
August 4, 2010 13:49
2 minute read.
Can Facebook fix Israeli drivers?

jordan valley bika road 298. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

India is now using Facebook to combat bad driving in the over-populated and under-policed capital of New Delhi. Yes, apparently everybody's favorite web site can also solve the world's socio-economic problems, according to a New York Times report.

The Indian traffic police have created a Facebook page on which the average Indian citizen can post photos of traffic violations as they occur. See someone making an illegal U-turn? Snap a quick photo on your cell phone, and turn him in.

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Some 3,000 violation photos have been posted by citizen enforcers, resulting in police issuing 665 tickets to the offending drivers via license plate information. This is within the two months since the program has been implemented.

This tactic might be tried in Israel.

Although it is well-established that Israeli drivers are bad, they don't approach the level of egregiousness in India, which boasts the formidable statistic of having the most traffic fatalities in the world.

Indians take "aggressive driving" to a different level - on lonely highways in the desert, with one lane going each way, Indians drive on both sides of the road, at all times, right up until the brink of collision, when cars will quickly melt back into their respective sides to pass each other. They needed something to spark change, and so do we.

A common scene in mid-day Jerusalem traffic in Israel, is a giant bus parked in the middle of an intersection during a green light, blocking 6 lanes going both ways. Happens all the time. The facebook solution could allow you to click, post, and do something about it.

The only thing Israeli drivers do better than than drive badly is yell at other Israelis who drive badly. Israelis would be quick as cowboys to those Indians to unholster their cameras, point, shoot, and turn in their lawbreaking fellows.

Yes, there are issues. It could become an "Orwellian society," as the New York Times quoted an Indian CEO as saying. People could doctor photos, report things incorrectly. Harbor vendetattas. It's doubtful the concept would ever fly in the United States, where an army of lawyers would descend and crush it the in the bud, citing freedom of something.

The New York Times quoted traffic commissioner Satyendra Garg as saying, "Despite some concerns about privacy, and the authenticity of the photos, the public’s response has been overwhelmingly positive."

In Israel, it's a sad, incredible, and oft-repeated fact that more people have been killed in traffic accidents than in all of the country's wars combined. Fighting against a problem that has so far evaded common solutions, maybe it's time to try something new.

Dov Preminger is a Breaking News Editor at The Jerusalem Post.


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