76% of Israelis fear car accidents… and half of drivers admit regularly speeding

In survey, over one-quarter admit to reading phone messages while behind the wheel, 16% say they sometimes tap out texts too

Two wrecked cars and a truck involved in an accident along route 90 in the Arava, southern Israel, May 28, 2022. (Courtesy of Arava regional council)
Illustrative: Two wrecked cars and a truck involved in an accident along route 90 in the Arava, southern Israel, May 28, 2022. (Courtesy of Arava regional council)

Over three-quarters of Israelis fear getting into a car accident and more than half of drivers regularly speed at more than 10 kilometers above the limit, according to data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

A CBS survey also found that about a quarter of respondents occasionally read text messages while driving and 41 percent sometimes get behind the wheel when they are very tired.

The CBS polled 7,416 road users aged 20 and up for the survey, which was published Tuesday.

It found that 76% fear being in an accident as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian.

There were 70% who worried it would be an accident caused by another road user, with 19% expecting to be stricken by coincidence, divine intervention, or plain bad luck.

Among respondents, 6.6% said they had been involved in an accident in the previous 12 months.

Overall, 21% of drivers said they feel “very safe” and 47% said they feel “safe,” with 32% not feeling safe. Among male drivers, 29% said they don’t feel safe, with the figure climbing to 36% among women.

The vast majority of those over the age of 20 (91%) said they belt up when in a car, with no difference between sexes.

There were 57% of drivers who admitted to speeding at more than 10 kph (6 mph) above the limit on city streets, while 43% claimed that they never do.

On intercity highways, 52% of drivers said they hit the gas at over 20 kph above the speed limit, while 48% claimed to not exceed it by that much.

A third of drivers revealed they don’t maintain proper distance from other vehicles.

Taking their eyes off the road, 26% of drivers said they sometimes read text messages while behind the wheel and 16% said they sometimes write messages too.

Only 2.7% of drivers frequently talk while on the phone while driving rather than using a hands-free speaker, and 15% said they sometimes hold the phone when speaking on a call.

Among motorbike and scooter riders, 82% said they don’t feel safe, 13% said they feel safe, while 4.5% said they feel “very safe.”

Only 5% of drivers said they sometimes run through red lights, with 95% saying they never do. A third (33%) of those on foot said they cross roads even when there is a red light for pedestrians. The figure was twice as high (39%) among those aged 20-44 than it was among those aged 65 or over (20%).

Only 15% felt “very safe” as pedestrians, while 46% said they felt safe. Thirty-seven percent said they don’t feel safe, with the latter results holding true across all age groups from 20 and up.

While overall 36% of Jewish respondents felt unsafe as pedestrians, among Arab respondents the figure jumped to 42%

The poll found that 41% of respondents drive when “very tired,” with 6% saying it happens quite often and 35% saying “sometimes” or “infrequently.”

Nearly half, 47% of respondents, felt the government is not doing enough to promote road safety.

According to the Or Yarok road safety lobby group, 176 people have been killed on the country’s roads since the start of the year. That compares with 178 during the same period in 2021.

Last year, 361 people died on Israel’s roads, according to the National Road Safety Authority.

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