Even after tragic train crash, 3 cars illegally cross tracks

As the investigation into Monday's deadly train collision at Beit Yehoshua entered its third day, government agencies began to reflect upon lessons learned from the preliminary findings even as at least three drivers exhibited an impressive ability to ignore the disturbing images of twisted metal seen throughout the media on Monday. Likud MK Gilad Erdan hosted Israel Railways CEO Ofer Lintchevsky at a meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee to discuss immediate responses to the details that have been revealed as to the causes of Monday's crash, in which five people were killed and more than 90 injured. Erdan demanded that Lintchevsky order trains to slow down when approaching crossings categorized as hazardous - including that at Beit Yehoshua, "even if it hinders, as the CEO says, the train's timetable." At the meeting, Lintchevsky announced that he had agreed to adopt the recommendation of committee chairman Moshe Kahlon, and would now post traffic guards at all crossings when trains are in operation. The inspectors were expected to take up their posts in 10 days. The committee further suggested that they be equipped with walkie-talkies to contact train conductors and report vehicles stuck on tracks. In addition to highlighting IR's responsibility to ensure safety at dangerous crossings, Erdan also acknowledged that criminal negligence was a problem among motorists. He proposed a bill enforcing mandatory jail time for drivers caught crossing train tracks illegally, characterizing the bill as an attempt to "red-flag this dangerous violation, which can lead to many people being injured or even killed." Erdan's admonitions were reinforced later Wednesday, when, for the second time in a week, a minibus carrying children crossed the train tracks at Ad Halom junction, near Ashdod, while the light was red. A National Traffic Police squad working undercover at the busy intersection, apprehended the driver. In March, the Ashdod resident was caught committing the same offense, and was given a NIS 800 fine and conditional suspension of his license for two months. In addition to the two rail crossing violations, he was also found to have 24 previous traffic offenses. Minutes later, the same undercover police officers managed to apprehend two other vehicles crossing the dangerous junction while the light was red. Senior officers were quick to express their disgust and frustration with such offenses. "When we talk about a human factor in collisions, this is the classic example of a bad driving culture. This is clear roadway gangsterism, carried out without considering the consequences, and an act of negligence and of disregard for human life. These people must be seriously punished," said one officer.