August 28: Views on road safety

The main problem of errant motorists and jaywalkers is a cultural problem that won’t be so simple to solve.

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Views on road safety
Sir, – Hurrah for your editorial advocating the establishment of a pedestrian protection program (“Pedestrian protectors,” August 26).
Having had several friends killed by vehicles and others injured, I am keenly aware of the problem. I tell visitors that the most dangerous thing they can do in Israel is cross the street. I try to make eye contact and hold out my hand when crossing, but even then I have cars whiz by me.
I would gladly be a volunteer and think many others would also. I question whether the authorities would be willing to go along with the program and wonder how we can encourage them to do so.
Sir, – I believe that the main problem of errant motorists and jaywalkers is a cultural problem that won’t be so simple to solve.
Yes, wouldn’t it be great if the police were to apprehend motorists who drive with no consideration for others, be they pedestrians or fellow motorists, but the main challenge is the police themselves. I’ll explain.
I live in Jerusalem. Last week I was waiting to cross busy Emek Refaim Street at a pedestrian crossing and a police car approached. I indicated with my hand up that I wanted to cross, but the policeman at the wheel took absolutely no notice of me and drove ahead as if I was invisible.
So how are we to educate the police to change the culture of bad road manners when they themselves are flagrant abusers?
Sir, – People here pay a great deal of money to learn how to drive and it takes them a long time, sometimes failing the test several times, before they get it right. So, are they not taught road manners and thoughtfulness for pedestrians and other drivers, or does that all go out the window with the receipt of a license? I am appalled daily at the lack of manners and consideration on the roads. What infuriates me most is drivers who do not indicate when they are turning.
Why? What is it with them that they cannot flick the indicator to let the person behind them know which direction they are taking? Illegal parking on sidewalks causes pedestrians to walk in the road. I am very tempted sometimes to let the air out of their tires, especially when I see people forced into the road with a child in a buggy. Passing on the inside lane! So very dangerous! I could go on and on; we all know these faults.
Yes, I am in favor of volunteer traffic police. I’ll do it! I would love to! I am sick of the senseless loss of life on the roads.
Herzlia Pituah
Sir, – Wow! What a great idea – empowering the public to help do the work of the underachieving traffic police, who are seen riding around in their cars most of the time and are obviously not very effective.
I reside on a no-outlet street behind a large elementary school. At the entrance to the block there is a sign that reads (in Hebrew only) “No entry for picking up and dropping off of children.”
During the school year, as I would walk my young children to school, many parents disregarded the sign. The closer to the bell, the faster they traveled, with total disregard for the students walking toward the entrance.
I have contacted the school and the police on several occasions.
School administrators were very sympathetic to my pleas and stated they had tried on numerous occasions to get help from the city, but to no avail. The police were very cordial, but no one returned my phone calls and nothing was done to correct the situation.
The PTA president has tried to speak to parents who ignore requests not to use the street, but has no ability to enforce the rules – and was told the sign is not legally binding.
I suggest that a policeman stand by the entrance one or two mornings a week for about an hour or so, and hand out warnings and fines. This surely would bring about a change in peoples’ behavior. Furthermore, one would think that speed bumps – so common on many roads in the area – would be put in place to protect the young children the rest of the time.
With the new school year, we can only hope that some changes will take place before, God forbid, a tragedy occurs.
Sir, – I’d add one more item to the list of pedestrian protectors: allowing pedestrians the peace of mind to walk on the city streets without the incessant blaring of horns.
Drivers use their horns indiscriminately, not to warn other drivers but to bark their frustration at having missed a precious millisecond of their lives in traffic.
Drivers are protected from the noise by a car shell. Pedestrians, as well as residents, have no such protection.
Sir, – “Vision Zero” (Editorial, August 24) is an excellent review of the sad situation is Israel.
Surely there cannot be any valid objection to the enforcement of traffic laws. However, the distressing fact is that the police are not following through with enforcement.
In so many cases of accidents we read that the driver has a long list of serious violations that should have kept him off our roads. And note this: There was a recent report that many thousands of drivers who have had their licenses suspended (if not completely revoked) have not handed these licenses over to the police. How can this be tolerated? Finally, we should be striving to improve the quality of drivers and adopt the goals and methods of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). Those who pass the tests should be rewarded with cheaper insurance premiums.
Make good driving a goal and having the IAM badge something to be proud of.
The writer is a life member of the South African branch of IAM

Time to speak out
Sir, – It is high time our government speaks out loudly to the world, as in “Defining Israel’s capital” (Comment & Features, August 26).
Many readers in the UK think of the Guardian newspaper as the law. It is up to the Press Complaints Commission to rectify the paper’s distorted view on Jerusalem.
In 1980 a law was passed declaring that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Therefore, all foreign embassies should be there, and if America is really our ally it should set an example.
Herzlia Pituah
Mormons and the Jews
Sir, – Mitt Romney traveled to Israel in an attempt to woo the Jewish voters of America by convincing them of his love for our country. Apparently, there is a growing number of American Jews who are considering voting for him as president.
Without entering into the merits of Romney and his opponent, President Barack Obama, all Jews should be aware of the Mormon attitude toward Jews.
The Book of Mormon is the holiest book of the Mormon religion.
In the Book of 2 Nephi, which is part of the Book of Mormon, we find the following, in Chapter 10, Verse 3: “Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him – for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.”
This says that God wanted Jesus to be crucified by his own people and found no nation wicked enough to the do the wicked deed other than the Jews. That was why Jesus was born a Jew.
A New York Times article recently discussed the negative attitude toward blacks by Mormons, and their change of heart.
We must query the Mormon Church, as well as Mitt Romney himself, on whether they repudiate the explicit anti-Semitic attitude of their holiest book.