Letters to the Editor: ‘Post’ readers react to horrific Route 1 bus crash

I think there has to be a serious investigation of Egged’s hiring and firing policies. It is just as responsible for the deaths on Route 1 as the driver is.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
I was sick when I read “Bus driver in deadly crash suspected of negligence” (February 16).
How could this man have continued to drive after being responsible for a previous crash that injured passengers? There’s also the fact that complaints had been lodged against him regarding his driving record.
I think there has to be a serious investigation of Egged’s hiring and firing policies. It is just as responsible for the deaths on Route 1 as the driver is.
The horrific crash on the Jerusalem- Tel Aviv highway should never have happened. The driver reportedly was involved in a similar accident with a truck in 2013 on the same road and had his license suspended for two years, yet Egged apparently decided to give him a second chance.
In my opinion, the bus company and the driver are equally guilty.
Twenty-five years ago, my two daughters lost their lives when a bus collided with their taxi and other vehicles on that road. It was said that the bus driver had been driving too many hours that day.
Sadly, neither management nor drivers seem to be answerable for their negligence. Just as a pilot has to undergo psychological suitability testing before being given responsibility for human lives, a bus driver should have comparable testing.
If jail terms were mandatory for management and not only for culpable drivers, we would see an immediate improvement in the screening of responsible drivers.
Three years ago, I was hit by an Egged bus while bicycling in Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. The bus driver was making an illegal turn. I was hospitalized for several days.
The driver finally came to trial about a year later and was found guilty. It turned out that he had been driving for Egged for 10 years, and in that time had been involved in seven accidents. I was the eighth.
The judge made it clear that under the circumstances, the maximum sentence was justified – a two-month license suspension.
Responding favorably to a plea that this would place too great a burden on the driver’s family, the judge reduced the sentence to a one-month suspension. No consideration was given to the possibility of removing this driver from behind the wheel.
I am curious to know how many more accidents this particular driver has caused since he put me in the hospital.
Your February 16 editorial “Speed factor” is unfortunate in a number of respects.
The second sentence states that “it was the bus driver’s recklessness” that resulted in the deaths. Have you abandoned the concept of presumed innocence? Are you now judge, juror and executioner? You try to make the point that Israel’s high speed limits are the sole cause of the rising death rate on our roads. Let me correct you, since I can bring to bear 50 years of experience driving here and overseas: The root cause of our accident rate is the almost total lack of surveillance on roads.
I drove for 20 years in Australia and can testify to the rigid and unrelenting enforcement of speed limits and other laws there. I completely lost count of the number of infringement notices I received, and I pride myself on being a reasonably careful driver. In a similar period here in Israel, driving much the same way, I have received exactly one ticket! I travel the highways every day, driving at just above the legal limit, and am constantly being overtaken not just by cars, but by buses and trucks.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg regarding the horrible Israeli driving habits, and it all comes back to the total absence of a meaningful police presence.
The worst part is that a lack of funding should be the least of the reasons. Traffic control is self-funding. The revenue earned will be several times the cost, and the reduction in road carnage will be a bonus.
I live near Hebron Road in the capital, and just by standing at a junction I have seen many drivers on the telephone, shaving or applying make-up. I have also seen police hiding in the bushes elsewhere watching for motorists who fail to come to a complete halt at a stop sign. Is it in reality just a money- generating operation? The whole culture of driving here is one of little or no consideration shown to others, and impatience when vehicles are maneuvering. Most annoying are the “bully boys” (who often drive large 4x4s); they go straight to the head of a waiting line of traffic and bulldoze their way in. Their time is more important than anyone else’s.
There have been changes in the law regarding speed limits.
So what! Without enforcement, there is no point in making laws, and there seems to be little police presence on the roads, and few cameras.
Perhaps we should look to the UK, where deaths on the road have been dramatically reduced by enforcing the law with a police presence and the use of cameras. Some of the cameras calculate average speed. This could be useful on Route 6, which already has license-plate-reading cameras.
The remedy for reckless driving by bus drivers is not fitting a so-called black box – this is a classic case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. The answer is to install speed limiters, as is a legal requirement in the UK for all vehicles with more than eight seats, and for commercial vehicles with a maximum laden weight of more than 3.5 tons.
I strongly believe that one of the requirements for obtaining a driver’s license should include a mandatory two-month period of weekly volunteer work with road-accident victims in a rehab facility. The movies shown in driving courses are not sufficient and cannot compare to actually witnessing the horrible results of road accidents.
This same mandatory volunteer work should be imposed on anyone seeking a license renewal and on violators of major traffic rules – even first-timers. It should also be part of the course given to drivers who reach a certain number of violation points.
Hopefully, this will add to the deterrent factor involved in other proposals.
It would be interesting to know what passengers do when a bus or taxi driver is on the phone. I often see drivers talking on their mobiles when driving. This applies to normal bus routes, as well as buses bringing children to school.
Many of us are held captive in buses and taxis with drivers who speed, talk on cellphones, change lanes frequently, tailgate and more. Instead of complaining to the driver or, later, to the company, we hold our breath and pray that we’ll arrive safely.
We should demand to get off the bus or out of taxi. But we don’t. We are in a hurry. Perhaps we don’t want to make waves. Perhaps we fear that our concerns won’t be taken seriously.
Perhaps we are too embarrassed to cause a fuss.
We can no longer sit by quietly in the face of danger to ourselves and others on the road.
We must speak up. Lives are at stake.