June 19: Speed does kill

Marlin Levin's statement that death risks from speeds of impact with a fixed object at 30 kph are the same as those at 120 kph is, pardon me, nonsense.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Speed does kill... Sir, - Marlin Levin's statement that death risks from speeds of impact with a fixed object at 30 kph are the same as those at 120 kph is, pardon me, nonsense ("Control's the thing," Letters, June 18). In 1993 Hans Joksch published a classic paper showing the 4th power effect between impact speed and death. From his graph, the death risk for occupants of crashing at 30 kph is less than 1%; at 50 kph it is about 5%; at 90 kph it is about 50%, and at 120 kph it is 100%. For pedestrians - one-third of the dead in Israel - the corresponding risks are much, much higher. Reckless proposals to teach driving "control" can be expected to be as effective in reducing road deaths as teaching "safe smoking" has been in preventing lung cancer, and coitus interruptus in preventing teenage pregnancy. Here are the only facts that matter: There have been reductions in deaths of up to 40-50% everywhere immediately following the introduction of speed camera networks. Our neighbor, Jordan, is beginning to get similar results. Israel is expected to have its first cycle of 50 speed cameras on our roads within the year, and subsequent second, third and fourth cycles thereafter. The human toll each week of delay in introducing the national camera network is three to five lives. PROF. ELIHU D RICHTER Hebrew University-Hadassah Injury Prevention Center Jerusalem ...and how! Sir, - Where is your correspondent's evidence for his claim that a driver hitting a tree at 30 km. an hour is just as likely to die as one hitting the same tree at 120 km. an hour? Is he unaware of the statistically significant reduction in road deaths in countries that have reduced speed limits? Equal evidence is available in Israel from the pilot introduction of speed cameras in Netanya. Regrettably, his claims are also voiced by our politicians responsible for traffic control, and the fatality rate continues to be far too great. MONTY M. ZION Tel Mond Compare & contrast Sir, - To try to get Daoud Kuttab to understand why the Israel lobby carries the weight it does, I suggest he review the United States Constitution and Israel's Declaration of Independence at its founding in 1948. They are (remarkably) similar in far more ways than they are dissimilar. Our founding principles are virtually identical. As for Barack Obama, I do not like him for a different, more valid reason than Kuttab's. I find it hard to believe that 20 years' association with radical hater Rev. Wright and others did not affect his political or religious thinking in any way ("Obama's promises fail at the AIPAC conference," June 18). FRED TEPPER Baltimore To each his own Sir, - Jewish Agency chairman Ze'ev Bielski has asked the Knesset to "encourage" the government to help fund some of its projects because the agency's budget has declined ("As budget falters, Jewish Agency wants Israeli government 'partnership,'" June 17). That's a hutzpa. The government claims it is not taking care of its own young people because it doesn't have enough money. Wouldn't it make more sense to encourage them to stay in Israel by trying to make their lives here easier? The Jewish Agency, a pre-state body, should have been dissolved once Israel became a state. It has financial problems now? Maybe this is a good time to start consolidating its many offices and committees. For example, one office with a minimal staff would be sufficient for transferring US charitable funds to a small and revitalized agency. Let our government do what should be done for its own citizens, and let Jewish Americans take care of the projects needed for their young people. LILA BRODSKY Jerusalem Accountable MKs Sir, - Reuven Hazan's intriguing "Why would anyone want more MKs? Here's why" (June 18) offered some good reasons for increasing the number of MKs. There could be more support for such a counterintuitive proposal if those additional MKs were elected regionally. This might be a way to deal with Shas's "veto" of the proposal for direct regional elections. The Israeli public would be well served by having at least some Knesset representatives who are directly accountable to them rather than to their political parties. MATT SCHEIN Jerusalem Right into their hands Sir, - You reported that despite UN Resolution 1701, Hizbullah "has smuggled tens of thousands of rockets and brought thousands of fighters to the area" south of the Litani River ("Ashkenazi: Despite UNIFIL, Hizbullah has built up underground infrastructure," June 18). At the same time, on page 1, "Truce with Hamas set to begin 6 a.m. tomorrow" quoted an official in the Prime Minister's Office saying that certain elements must be met in order for the quiet in Gaza to hold, including "an end to the arms smuggling and Hamas military buildup." But isn't it obvious that Hamas will follow in the footsteps of its Iranian-proxy mentor and continue to rearm and retool in preparation for the next battle against the Jewish state? The real question that needs to be asked is why our leaders are playing right into the hands of our sworn enemies. JOSH HASTEN Jerusalem Sir, - I am surprised that Israel did not insist, as one of the terms of the truce, on supplying the Hamas government in Gaza with all the arms and ammunition it requires, especially rockets and explosives. Everyone would gain. For Hamas, it would ease the messy business of smuggling weaponry into Gaza by sea or through tunnels in the Philadelphi Corridor. For us it would be a boost to our economy, providing many extra jobs, as well as removing from our soldiers (and from the Egyptians) the chore of searching for this contraband. Why should we have to contend with the inevitable barrage of foreign-made missiles? Aren't the locally manufactured ones good enough? MOSHE BECKER Petah Tikva You stand so tall Sir, - Despite the ongoing difficulties in the Middle East on account of oil, the war in Iraq, the threats coming from Iran and more, Israel stands tall. As an American, I stand for Israel because I know that Israel is of great value and is destined to succeed in the end. JOSHUA SHEPHARD Detroit Sex on his mind? Sir, - Most people, when they get older, seem to become a bit less interested in sexuality. Not Shmuley Boteach ("What creates sparks between men and women?" June 17). He keeps harping on co-ed schools ruining sex drives. Never mind that he has disproved his own theory, having gone through mixed education himself as a kid; his fascination persists. M.M VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem Alien belief Sir, - In "We're all right, Shmuley" (June 16) Dovid Eliezrie lists many of Chabad's successes in recent years and goes on to mention the mountains Chabad still has to climb. However, a major problem that does not even get a mention is how to deal with the apparently not insignificant number of Chabadniks who believe that the Rebbe is the messiah. This belief makes them barely distinguishable from the "Jews for Jesus," whom Chabad officially excoriates. STANLEY LAWSON Jerusalem A sweet thank-you Sir, - When we are in Israel, my husband will always give a chocolate bar to the guards posted at the entrances to hotels and restaurants. It's his way of saying thank you for a usually unappreciated, but very important job. HELEN SLAVIN Rockaway, New Jersey