Knesset road safety panel meets for the first time

New Knesset subcommittee holds a meeting on the factors that caused traffic deaths to go up by nearly 11% in 2010.

Robert Tibayev 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Robert Tibayev 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The newly formed Knesset subcommittee on road safety held its first meeting Tuesday, with committee chairman MK Robert Tibayev (Kadima) hearing a broad perspective on the factors that caused traffic deaths to go up by nearly 11 percent in 2010.
“We are getting this issue back on track at last,” Tibayev told The Jerusalem Post after the hearing, which included representatives of the Transportation, Education and Public Security ministries, the Israel Police, the National Road Safety Authority and various action groups dedicated to the issue.
“My main goal today was to look into the main causes of traffic accidents,” continued the MK, who pushed for the committee’s establishment after meeting with USborn Bryan Atinsky, whose wife, Efrat, two children, Noam, 5 and Ya’ari, 9 months, and mother-in-law Esther Gamliel, were killed in a road collision last year.
The panel is a subcommittee of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee.
“In the past there was no one body that brought all the issues together and this is exactly why we needed this committee. We will now work together to examine the problems and figure out how to solve them,” he said.
Conspicuously absent from the meeting was Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz, whose ministry oversees the National Road Safety Authority and other MKs. United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler was the only other MK to show up.
“You ask what causes traffic accidents,” Rachel Rotem, director of the Department for Road Safety in the Education Ministry, said in the hearing.
“I believe it is a mixture of many things, police prevention, prosecution, education, culture, physical infrastructure and more, but the main problem is that until now there has been no one – no political party, no politician and no mayor – to take up this battle.”
According to annual figures published by road safety organization Or Yarok, which was also represented at the meeting, 388 people were killed on the roads in 2010, compared to 350 in 2009 – an increase of 10.8% percent, despite a commitment by the government to reduce road deaths by 6% annually.
Tuesday’s committee meeting also touched upon the link between budget cuts and road deaths. NGOs working in the field continually point out that the government allocation for encouraging and enforcing road safety on Israel’s roads has dropped from NIS 550 million in 2009 to NIS 306 million in 2010, with resources for the police’s traffic department reduced by nearly half in the past two years.