2019 saw 10% rise in traffic accident deaths, official data shows

National Road Safety Authority chief laments insufficient budget to reduce crashes; leader of road safety group says ‘cutting funds and shirking responsibility costs lives’

Rescue forces and police at the scene of a deadly collision between two cars on Route 443 near Giv'at Ze'ev on December 1, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Rescue forces and police at the scene of a deadly collision between two cars on Route 443 near Giv'at Ze'ev on December 1, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Traffic-related deaths rose by 10 percent in 2019 over the previous year, with 349 people killed in 314 deadly accidents, according to data released Tuesday, the last day of the year, by the National Road Safety Authority.

NRSA data showed a rise both in the number of deadly incidents (314 compared to 286) and in the number of victims (349 versus 316). On Tuesday, a car crash on the Golan Heights killed one woman, bringing the death toll for the year to 350 and the number of lethal crashes to 315.

The data also showed a 10% decrease in the number of pedestrians killed (88 compared to 98). Still, a pedestrian was killed on average every four days.

Thirty-four of the victims were bicycle riders and 68 were moped and motorbike riders.

Despite the rise in deaths, the year was the second-least-deadliest of the past five.

NRSA director general Raheli Tevet-Wiesel said the body’s budget “is being eroded every year” and fighting road deaths required “a multi-year plan around which all relevant ministries will rally.

NRSA director general Raheli Tevet-Wiesel (Courtest NRSA)

“Significantly reducing road accidents in Israel necessitates devoting resources and cooperation between all government offices and bodies involved directly and indirectly. We cannot create real change without the allocation of resources correlating to the number of those killed every year,” she said.

She also called for all drivers to behave more responsibly on the roads, saying “the human factor is a deciding factor in this war.”

NRSA data showed that only two of the 314 deadly crashes were caused by technical faults in vehicles, while the rest were the result of traffic offenses and other human error.

Erez Kita, CEO of the Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving in Israel, was harsher in his criticism of authorities and pushed back against attempts to blame drivers.

“The year 2019 is a year of failure in reducing deaths and it’s time for the Transportation Ministry to understand that cutting down on funds devoted to saving human lives and shirking responsibility costs lives. When there’s a drop [in victims] numerous ministries fight for credit. But when there’s a rise then Israeli drivers are at fault,” he said.

“That’s not how you fight road accidents and that’s not how you save lives.”

Just last week four people were killed when their bus crashed into a concrete bus stop near Ben Gurion Airport. Two women were seriously injured and 12 others suffered light injuries. The driver was arrested, and police were looking into whether he was using a cellphone at the time of the accident.

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