Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz presented his program for combating road accidents on Monday at a symposium of safety officers at Kibbutz Shfeyim. The program focuses on stronger enforcement of driving laws and stiffer penalties for violations.
"It is unacceptable that accidents kill some 450 people a year and cost the country NIS 12 billion annually," Mofaz told the audience. "I won't let irresponsible people hurt other citizens," the minister added. "I intend to do everything within my powers to stop this killing," Mofaz declared.
Mofaz' program mandates that in addition to the establishment of a new national body that will take charge of road safety, an undercover enforcement unit will also monitor public transportation, including railway traffic. The unit will document traffic violators and submit records to the police, who will then charge the drivers, Army Radio reported.
In addition, the current points system of penalties will be changed to provide appropriate punishment for repeat offenders. Drivers who rack up a large number of traffic violations will have their license revoked permanently.
Likewise, the minister plans to lower the speed limit on roads considered hazardous, lengthen the period in which new drivers are required to drive under supervision, and make drivers' tests more difficult. Mofaz rejected arguments that train collisions could not be prevented through technological developments, arguing that very simple means existed that could help prevent accidents.
Speaking to students at a Tel Aviv high school, Mofaz said that he was very worried about his children, currently serving in combat units, but less so when they were on the enemy's borders than when they were driving in Israel.
"I have two sons," Mofaz said. "During the week I never call them, I know exactly where they are and what they're doing, and I know how dangerous their missions are. But when they come home, I'm on the phone with them once an hour."
"Why?" he asked. "Because they're driving in Israel."
Meanwhile, it was reported on Monday that traffic police will deploy surveillance cameras at major train crossings in the coming weeks, with the purpose of documenting traffic violators. The cameras will be stationed at the Ad Halom Junction in Ashdon, the Kerach Junction in Ramle and the Kfar Shmariyahu Junction.
Drivers caught crossing the train tracks during a red light will be fined up to NIS 1,000 and will tally up to 10 points to their driving record.
Earlier Monday, Mofaz ordered that cars be prohibited from crossing the railroad tracks in Binyamina following an accident that was averted Sunday evening when a school bus got stuck on the tracks.