National Road Safety Authority: Bigger budget needed to reduce traffic fatalities

Authority's chairman stresses budget of NIS 550 million is critical to bolstering trend of decreased roadside fatalities.

TRAFFIC accident in Jerusalem generic 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
TRAFFIC accident in Jerusalem generic 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
A National Road Safety Authority budget of NIS 550 million is critical to bolstering the trend of decreased roadside fatalities, the authority’s chairman said at a Knesset committee meeting on Tuesday.
Boosting the operating budget to NIS 550m. for 2015 and 2016 will allow the authority to run at approximately its originally assigned budget, before facing significant cuts over the years, Dr. Yaakov Sheinin said during a Knesset Economic Affairs Committee meeting.
In addition, the authority has undergone a streamlining process over the past two years that would enable its staff members to manage such a budget efficiently and effectively, he added.
“Data from the beginning of 2013 indicate that Israel is in a stage in which the ability to continue to reduce the number of deaths is getting harder and harder,” Sheinin said.
“In order to further reduce the number of road fatalities and attain the goal of being among the five safest countries in the world, we must return a budget of NIS 550m. to the authority and sharply increase the authority’s effectiveness,” he said.
The challenges facing the National Road Safety Authority have become apparent in recent months, where after years of continuous and dramatic declines in the number of traffic fatalities, data from 2013 and the first half of 2014 showed that this trend has slowed greatly, the authority said.
Meanwhile, the number of vehicles on the roads in Israel is expected to double by 2030, from 2.8 million to 5.4 million, the authority added.
One of the biggest problems that the Road Safety Authority has identified is that more than 30 percent of all traffic related deaths involve pedestrians – compared to 20 percent in other developed countries. Pedestrians that are particularly vulnerable include children in the Arab sector, senior citizens in the Jewish sector and in urban areas, and those people crossing inter-city roads, the authority said.
Over the course of the next year, the authority said it will be placing an emphasis on computerized, real-time mapping of all glitches and dangerous road areas in Israel.
Dispatchers for road safety problems, working with the authority, will be available 24 hours a day through the police *100 hotline.
Meanwhile, also in order to reduce fatalities, the authority is proposing designating tow and repair trucks to be stationed near highways, so that vehicles can be reached within 15 minutes of calling.
An additional field that the authority said it intends to tackle is the institution of new regulations for the electric bicycle sector.
Aiming to adopt the European standards for the field, the authority said that such regulations would include a speed limit of 25 kph. and the requirement of a license. Minimum age for operation would be 14, and such bikes would be prohibited on sidewalks.