Pedestrian protectors

Perhaps it is time for citizens to get involved and provide support to our Traffic Police.

Pedestrians crossing street 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Pedestrians crossing street 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Israel’s overtaxed police forces can’t possibly deal with the seemingly endless infractions of apparently law-abiding citizens on our roads. But when will the traffic carnage end? Does our own desire to get somewhere a few minutes faster mean drivers can get away with totally disregarding speed limits, marked crosswalks and traffic lights, whether or not a pedestrian is crossing? Perhaps it is time for citizens to get involved and provide support to our Traffic Police.
With the difficulties involved in securing larger budgets to provide for more police officers, now is the time to call upon civilians for help. Such projects have worked well in other countries, and we already have a core of retired policemen who help regulate traffic.
A volunteer group of “pedestrian protectors” could be trained to photograph license plates of vehicles, including motorcycles, driving through marked crosswalks and red traffic lights when pedestrians are crossing.
Each member of this group should be equipped with a basic digital camera or cellphone/camera that can note the date and time, and all the photographer would need to do is record the location and send the picture electronically to an email address advertised by the Traffic Police.
The police would then issue tickets to the perpetrators by mail – not just warnings – and the amount of fines and points should also be increased.
These pedestrian protectors could also be involved with tasks easier than photographing a moving vehicle.
They could, for example, take pictures of license plates of cars that are parked illegally on the street or sidewalk, double-parked, or parked facing the wrong way.
Drivers parking cars facing the wrong direction not only risk hitting small children and animals as they make U-turns before and after parking, but can easily damage property and other cars, regardless of whether or not the street is busy.
If all citizens are encouraged to join in this project, the impact will be huge – and not only in lives saved, but also on our society as a whole.
How many other opportunities are there for working people, responsible teenagers, seniors, the unemployed, parents of small children – Jewish, Christian, Muslim and others to all work together to save lives without compromising any principles? And this effort can be done at any time that is convenient or suitable for them. It is essential that the program be advertised in Hebrew, English, Russian and Arabic.
What should the requirements be for this force of pedestrian protectors? The criteria might include the following: Strong motivation; a handwritten letter, written in the person’s language of choice, stating why someone should be given the privilege of serving; and two references from people who know the person well, indicating their belief that this person can handle the responsibility.
The police force, of course, will have to approve the volunteers and provide brief instruction. The police may also want to suggest a monthly minimum requirement of, say, five or 10 photographs, to justify the use of the camera.
A pilot program could be ready to begin within a month in three locations – such as Jerusalem, Netanya and Beersheba – to work out any kinks that might arise and develop a more comprehensive plan.
Such a program would not only be extremely beneficial and easy to implement throughout the country, but would also involve a relatively low cost, especially when we’re talking about people’s lives.
Fines collected could easily cover the expenses of the program, including advertising, and free up our officers on the streets to deal with other crimes. Any additional funds collected could be used to upgrade our police forces, especially the Traffic Police and its enforcement of the rules of the road.
More cameras should be placed on roads throughout the country, and especially at busy intersections. And if regular citizens join in to help the police in their efforts to halt road accidents, we will all benefit from the results.