Ministers okay traffic enforcement reform

New policies to include immediate arrest for severe violations, more license confiscations.

Traffic accident car accident 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Traffic accident car accident 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Ministerial Committee on Road Safety adopted on Tuesday a series of measures to increase enforcement and streamline adjudication against dangerous drivers.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem, said that once in place, the measures would lead to a revolution in effective enforcement.
Road Safety: Or Yarok steps on the gas
Only 1 of 5 cities has a plan for reducing pollution
The new enforcement plan, authored by a committee of legal experts in the field of transportation and headed by Traffic Court Judge Avital Chen, calls for wideranging changes in the works of the Traffic Police, the State Attorney’s Office and the courts.
Among the suggested changes: on the spot arrest of drivers who committed severe traffic violations, expanding the number of offences punishable by license confiscation and re-prioritizing traffic court cases according to the severity of the offence.
Katz said the enforcement plan was adopted unanimously by the committee members – himself, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich – and was also agreed upon by Traffic Police chief Cmdr. Avi Ben-Hamo and State Attorney Moshe Lador.
“The plan is unprecedented. It will lead to more enforcement, quicker rulings and more efficient punishment. The new plan is part of an overall effort taken by the ministry to improve safety on Israel’s roads, efforts that include investment in new and upgraded road infrastructures, investment in public transportation and improvements in driver training,” Katz said.
“The aim of the changes is to fortify treatment of repeat traffic offenders and those whose offences endanger lives, out of belief that stricter and quicker treatment of these offenders will reduce road deaths,” Chen said.
The new plan would require extensive legislative changes, Katz said. He vowed that he and his fellow ministers would do everything in their power to see these made in the fastest way possible, promised to attend all Knesset committee meetings dealing with the program and called on the members of Knesset to support the changes in committees and in the plenum.
One amendment that need to be approved is the addition of reckless or dangerous driving as a criminal offence; current legislation only refers to careless or negligent driving.
The Ministerial Committee recommended introducing new offences into the list of those that warrant removing drivers from the road for 30, 60 or 90 days. The most serious offences are abandonment, as in the case of hit and run accidents, and causing accidents as a result of drunkenness, dangerous overtaking, illegal crossing of railroad tracks, and reckless or aggressive driving.
In an effort to reduce the backlog in the traffic courts, which are drowning under the caseload, the plan proposes removing some of the responsibilities of the judges and transferring them to lower court officials, and defining “Red Files,” cases dealing with severe offences, as high priority, giving them precedence over more minor offences.
It recommends that the “Red Files” be heard within 14 days of the offence and resolved within 30 days of filing.
The recommendations also call for increased use of electronic enforcement. To facilitate the increase and to reduce the amount of cases questioning the applicability of the devices, for instance speed cameras or breathalyzers, the committee recommended that an independent agency like the National Standards Institution approve the use of a new device and have the final word on its application in the field.
Chen stressed that while the plan focused on the minority of drivers who behaved recklessly, endangering themselves and other road users, a majority of traffic accidents in Israel involved “normative drivers.”
She said distraction was a major cause of accidents.
“While these offences also have to be enforced and addressed by the courts, enforcement is not enough and much work has to be put into education and raising awareness of the dangers of inattentive driving,” Chen said.