Letters to the editor, February 27

Hit and Myth: Driving home the point Sir, - When Traffic Police Commissioner Shachar Ayalon says that the "bad Israeli driver is a myth" one can only imagine that he is in complete denial ("Bad Israeli driver is a 'myth,' says Traffic Police chief," February 24). I have yet to meet one visitor from overseas who has said he feels safe or comfortable on our roads; and the same is true for most locals. Furthermore if the bad driver is a myth, how is it that there thousands of drivers on the roads with outstanding violations which one only hears about when someone is killed by one of them in an accident? If they are a myth, why do some 1,000 people need hospital treatment or medical examination after road collisions every week? In other countries where statistics show significant drops in deaths and serious injuries they don't whisper the word "cameras." ZELDA HARRIS PR Director, Metuna Netanya Sir, - "Now that you have passed your test, you will now learn how to drive badly." These were the words my daughter heard from her Israeli driver's license examiner here. There can be no doubt about it that driving education in England is first class. Consequently, standards are far superior. To feel a sense of satisfaction that there were only 475 traffic fatalities in Israel, a slight drop compared to previous years is appalling. An overall review of driving is urgently required. MICHAEL PLASKOW Netanya Sir, - I don't know which drivers Traffic Police Commissioner Shahar Ayalon is referring to when he claims that drivers in Israel aren't all that bad. I am fortunate enough to visit Israel a few times a year and rent a car each time. I continue to be amazed at the reckless driving and overall lack of courtesy shown by Israeli drivers. Cars are used as weapons, with total disregard for the safety of other drivers and pedestrians. But I have also noticed that the police do not command any respect. During my last trip, I witnessed a terrible traffic jam caused in part by cars entering an intersection as the light was turning to red. Five policemen were standing on the sidewalk near this intersection. Two were talking to each other, two were eating and one was talking on a cellphone. Not one attempted to help resolve the traffic jam. Until offenders are punished for their aggressive driving, these abuses will continue. MICHAEL LANGBAUM Baltimore Sir, - Daily on our roads I witness the following traffic violations: Crossing a solid white line; weaving from lane to lane in an effort to get further ahead in heavy traffic; failure to signal an intended lane change; honking loudly because the car ahead is taking a little time to enter a highway safely; creating gridlock; blatant tailgating. Frequently a police vehicle has been present at the site of such violations, but never have I seen the offending driver pulled over. I now understand why. The traffic officers are suffering from the same impaired vision as their chief, Shachar Ayalon. MYRA ZION Tel Mond Sir, - We Israelis are good drivers; we just differ somewhat from drivers in Western countries in the following respects: • We take many uncalculated and dangerous risks; • We rarely indicate when turning or changing lanes and, if we do, only after turning; • We are not punctual and try to make up time on the roads; • We skimp on maintenance; • We have a police force which does not seek to be a shining example to us. We do suffer from a problem which is uniquely ours: We can never be polite or yield for fear of being called a freier. We would rather risk being killed than being branded gentle drivers. DAVID GOSHEN Kiryat Ono Sir, - I have driven almost 100,000 kilometers all around Israel, mainly on motor scooters, and I have seen and watched thousands of bad actions by drivers. But in this serious debate I actually agree with both sides. I agree with the Traffic Police commissioner that not all Israeli drivers are bad drivers; but it is also true that there many bad drivers on Israel's roads. These bad drivers are somewhat lucky to be alive. The big problem will occur when their good luck runs out. Sooner or later there will be an accident involving dozens of cars with many fatalities. LOU SCOP Netanya