On the road again

After two accidents, one fatal, the municipality will make changes to a dangerous intersection.

car crash 88 (photo credit: )
car crash 88
(photo credit: )
Within a period of less than two months, two pedestrians were wounded, one fatally, at the old Shaare Zedek junction on Jaffa Road. In early November 2005, at approximately 6 pm, Moshe Rosendorn, 62, an employee at the Israel Broadcasting Authority for over 40 years, was fatally struck by a bus as he was crossing Jaffa Road. In late December 2005, a woman was hit by a bus at the same intersection. She sustained mild injuries. According to Linda Barr, spokesperson at the IBA, which is housed in the former Shaare Zedek Hospital complex, the junction is particularly dangerous because it appears to be one-way while, in fact, traffic moves in both directions along the road. This is particularly unsafe to those unfamiliar with the road, Barr told In Jerusalem. In a recent statement, Gidi Schmerling, spokesman for the Jerusalem Municipality, confirmed that the Jerusalem police had contacted the municipality regarding this junction. The traffic police are able to make recommendations regarding improvements to an intersection, but only the municipality has the authority to implement such recommendations. In response to IJ's further queries, Schmerling revealed that the municipality had most recently decided to "...add safety barriers and change the traffic lights operation..." According to the National Road Safety Authority, over the last five years there have been 1,131 accidents in Jerusalem involving buses with 185 occurring in 2005. Since 2000, there have been 39 fatalities; in 2005 alone, buses were involved in five fatal accidents. According to a written statement prepared for IJ by Ron Ratner, Egged spokesperson, between 2000-2004, 70% of fatal traffic accidents in Jerusalem involved pedestrians and buses. Given that such a high proportion of fatal accidents have involved buses, is there a problem with the process of selection and training of bus drivers? This question becomes even more acute in light of the accident last week in which the driver of an Egged bus ran over and killed two teens who were sitting in a car parked on the side of the road in Petah Tikva. According to Ratner and the website of the Egged Transportation Cooperative Society Ltd., all of Egged's 4,330 drivers have been screened for prior traffic violations, and have undergone intensive training for all road conditions. Each driver's safety performance is "constantly" scrutinized by videos, driver documentation systems and inspectors posing as passengers. Refresher courses are also regularly provided to drivers. Drivers who are involved in traffic violations are reprimanded and punished, and subsequently dismissed if they re-offend, he says. And while Ratner acknowledges that buses have been involved in a large percentage of accidents, he argues that the police have found that the pedestrian was at fault in close to 70% of these accidents. Since the recent accidents at the Shaare Zedek junction are under legal investigation, neither Egged nor the police would comment on them specifically. Ratner did say, however, that the investigation to date has found that engineering problems at the intersection were, at the least, a contributing factor.