Road deaths steadily on the rise

357 people killed on roads in 2015; European report also points to worrying spike in Israel.

Scene of car accident in Jerusalem, April 15 , 2015 (photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Scene of car accident in Jerusalem, April 15 , 2015
Traffic accident mortality rates have consistently risen since 2012, making Israeli roads much more dangerous places to travel than many of their OECD counterparts.
After a steady decline in roadside fatalities from 2002 to 2012, the years that followed brought about a troublesome climb, with 357 people killed in 2015 – a 12 percent jump from the previous year’s 319 deaths.
The data were presented at a Knesset Economic Affairs Committee meeting on Wednesday, in a lengthy report called “Halting the Carnage on Roads” and prepared under the direction of committee chairman Eitan Cabel.
“From my perspective, the title of this report should be ‘I blame the Israeli government for continued destruction that is causing the deaths of hundreds of people each year, for destroying families, for economic damages of more than NIS 15 billion each year,’” Cabel said at the meeting.
The report delves into the numerous infrastructural, administrative and enforcement problems plaguing the Israeli road safety arena, offering a variety of recommendations as to how the government can improve the situation.
In addition, the text examines Israel’s performance from a global perspective.
Turning back to the year 2014, the report compares Israel’s road fatalities to those in 20 other developed countries, using data aggregated by the OECD’s International Transport Forum.
Israel ranked ninth highest of the 21 countries in traffic related deaths, with 5.3 fatalities per 1 billion kilometers traveled – matching the average for the 21 countries and slightly higher than the median of 4.8 fatalities per 1 billion kilometers.
In Israel, the number of deaths per 1 billion kilometers traveled dropped from 12.4 in the year 2000 to 5.3 in 2014 – a decrease of 57 percent – while those in all 21 countries collectively fell 62%.
The worst situation for 2014 was in South Korea, with 15.5 fatalities per 1 billion kilometers traveled, followed by New Zealand (7.1), Belgium (7.1), the United States (6.7), Japan (6.2), Slovenia (6.1), France (5.9) and Austria (5.4).
Faring better than Israel were Canada (5.1), Australia (4.8), Germany (4.6), Ireland (4.5), the Netherlands (4.3), Finland (4.2), Switzerland (3.9), Denmark (3.6), Great Britain (3.6), Sweden (3.4), Norway (3.4) and Iceland (1.2).
From 2014 to 2015, the European Transport Safety Council found an increase of 1.3% on average in the number of people killed in the European Union’s 28 countries, according to the report.
Israel, meanwhile, experienced an increase of 15.4% in the number of roadside fatalities that occurred from 2014 to 2015.
Despite Israel’s poor placement, the Transportation Ministry’s has maintained a longstanding target of making Israel one of the five countries with the lowest fatality rates by the year 2020, the report notes.
Separately, the European Transport Safety Council’s 10th Road Safety Performance Index Report, released in June, also presented worrisome data about Israeli traffic accidents. Of the 32 European neighborhood nations surveyed in the index, Israel experienced the second-largest percentage increase in road deaths between 2014 and 2015, with a 15% climb, behind only Cyprus’s 27% rise.
Nonetheless, the country remained the 10th safest country in terms of road deaths per million inhabitants in 2015.
“We were told that the year 2015 was exceptional; we expected an improvement in 2016,” said MK Hamad Amar, chairman of the Lobby for the War Against Road Accidents.
“Up until two months ago, the numbers indeed showed a decline, but in the past two months, 77 people were killed and this does not stop.”