August 9: Carnage on our roads

The driver of the vehicle involved in last week’s minibus-train crash had, according to police, 11 traffic violations over the past eight years.

letters 88 NICE (photo credit: )
letters 88 NICE
(photo credit: )
Carnage on our roads...
Sir, – The driver of the vehicle involved in last week’s minibus-train crash had, according to police, 11 traffic violations over the past eight years (“Minibustrain crash victims laid to rest in Jerusalem,” August 8). This, in my view (and, I suspect, the view of the vast majority of Israeli citizens), constitutes a substantial number of violations for a driver over whatever period of time.
It would seem, however, that this view is sadly not shared by the Israel Police, who put out a statement saying that 11 arrests over eight years is not a lot.
Quite clearly, if this is the opinion of the authorities, it would be illuminating to ascertain from them as to what in their opinion would constitute an acceptable average number of arrests for traffic violations per driver per year.
Sir, – I was a professional delivery driver in Israel for two years. I hate driving in this country. People are dangerous.
I don’t drive much any more, relatively speaking. I see people talking on their phones, speeding to “catch the light” even though the light is red by the time they arrive. I see people miss the proper lane to turn and simply stop in an adjacent lane in order to jump in when the lane gets a green light.
That is what I now see in three hours of driving a week. Imagine what I saw in those two years of full-time driving.
 ...and solutions
Sir, – There is only one way to bring down the carnage on our roads – bring down the maximum speed limit to 80 kph.
There is no other way.
Also, traffic cops on motorcycles to patrol the highways would help. Sure, business profits might come down due to lower speeds, but the saving of human lives is more important.
As a driver with over 70 years of accident-free driving in many different countries, I can assure you there is no other way.
Sir, – This terrible tragedy, which is one of ever so many at train crossings, requires that we reconsider safety arrangements to enable trains to stop in time.
It is true that there is a series of signs at intervals warning drivers that they are approaching a train crossing with a barrier, but, like all road signs in this country, they are very often ignored. The driver, as is alleged in this case, was engaged in conversation with his passengers and presumably ignored the warnings.
The solution appears to be to stop traffic at a sufficient distance from train crossings to enable train engineers to stop in an emergency. The road should be clearly painted with markings to highlight the prohibited zone.
Electronic eyes in the long stretch up to the crossing should flash a message to the engineer, telling him to brake immediately if there is any presence in the “prohibited zone.”
The aforementioned proposal is not expensive but would no doubt be very unpopular with the Ministry of Transport, whose overriding aim is to keep traffic moving as fast as possible to avoid congestion on our roads.
Kiryat Ono
Sir, – It is clear that the system of fragile barriers at train crossings is an invitation to some drivers to “have a go” and beat the descending gate. A simple, cheap and effective alternative would be to install solid concrete sliding gates that would prevent this.
Sir, – In his article (“From the railway crossing to Vision Zero,” August 8), Elihu D. Richter suggests many ways to cut the number of traffic fatalities and injuries.
They are all very good, but he misses the most obvious: We must get dangerous, reckless drivers off the road.
When police say that the driver of the minibus had 11 traffic violations in eight years and suggest that’s not so much, I have to wonder how many violations a driver must have before he loses his license permanently.
Until the courts and police treat traffic violators with strong measures, the carnage will continue.
Sir, – I cannot fathom why the government would consider lowering the age for licensing young drivers (“Radical road reform will see younger drivers, fewer lessons but longer ‘chaperone’ period,” August 6).
I’ve long maintained that teenagers’ judgment skills are not fully developed and lag far behind their ability to master technical matters (such as driving skills). In fact, according to a Time magazine cover story on the adolescent brain several years ago, the part of the brain that is the last to develop is, in fact, the part responsible for judgment skills. So what’s the point in lowering the age in which they can receive a license? In my opinion, a basic licensing requirement for anyone under even 23 years of age should also include a threemonth stint at a rehab facility such as Alyn or Bet Levenstein, where the applicants could actually see the results of car accidents. Volunteering once or twice a week for such a period would, hopefully, sober all or most of them up.
Finally, according to your paper, the driver responsible for the accident that killed seven family members had been arrested for 11 driving violations in the past eight years, a number the police said was not especially high. Huh? Compared to what?
Coordination needed
Sir, – If it is true that the US government has been putting pressure on Turkey that, if there are to be better ties with Washington, it must improve the atmosphere with Israel (“Tilting the Turkey-Israel-US triangle,” Diplomacy, August 6), then what does British Prime Minister David Cameron think he was doing by indulging in public Israel bashing in Ankara on his recent visit? As it so happens, both Obama and Cameron missed the opportunity to tell the Turkish prime minister that if he wants better ties with the US, he should immediately adopt EU sanctions against Iran and stop providing it with refined petroleum products and filling the hole left by former European suppliers.
Thanks to this lack of coordination in US-EU policy, Turkey gets away Scot-free yet again.
Credibility gap
Sir, – Does Avraham Burg really expect to be taken seriously (“Burg to form joint Arab-Jewish party,” August 4)? Any credibility he may have had went out the window when, opting for French citizenship, he urged Israelis to obtain a second passport.
A maneuver such as this begs the question: Does Burg have any place whatsoever in Israeli society? Adding insult to injury, he accuses Israeli politicians, presently beset with national problems of immense magnitude, of being “boring.” As he readily admits, he has no wish to re-enter politics, preferring instead to remain in the business world. I suggest he does just that.
Mevaseret Zion
All in due time
Sir, – Gershon Baskin (“The audacity of not losing hope,” August 3) suggests that Israelis are happy with the status quo and that “in the West Bank, Palestinians are enjoying security and calm which they have never known.” He also concludes that the “new-found stability has created economic growth [in the West Bank] which provides the same sense of ‘leave us alone and let us live.’” And what does Baskin write next? “The next generation of Palestinian leaders is likely to be less moderate, less pragmatic and less willing to accept the limitations of the only existing solution.”
I ask: Who has lost hope?