Israel ranked last among European nations in reducing traffic deaths

Recent report showing Jewish state lags behind others in cutting vehicular fatalities is highlighted after week in which 19 were killed on Israeli roads

Friends and family at the funeral of Anat Tal-Katelev who was killed in a car accident on Route 6, at the cemetery in Beit Kama, southern Israel, on July 29, 2022. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Friends and family at the funeral of Anat Tal-Katelev who was killed in a car accident on Route 6, at the cemetery in Beit Kama, southern Israel, on July 29, 2022. (Flash90)

Israel ranked last in a recent European road safety report comparing regional countries based on their ability to reduce annual road deaths over the past decade.

The report, produced by the European Transport Safety Council, was highlighted by Israeli television Saturday after a tragic week on the roads in which 19 people were killed, including four children.

The fatalities bring the August death toll on the roads to 25 less than halfway through the month. In comparison, the entire month of August 2021 ended with 29 vehicular deaths.

According to the report, European countries on average were successfully able to reduce traffic deaths by 31 percent between 2011 and 2021.

Topping the list were Norway and Lithuania, who brought down traffic fatalities by over 50% during that period.

Israel sat at the opposite end of the scale, with only a 4.7% drop in the previous 10 years.

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

Countries such as Romania and Hungary, both of which have far more deadly roads on average than Israel, were more successful in reducing fatalities since 2011, with falls of 12% and 15% respectively.

Responding to the unusually high number of fatalities in the past week, President Isaac Herzog mourned the lost lives in a tweet Saturday, saying “18 worlds destroyed for their loved ones within one week.”

“It’s appalling. The war against traffic accidents is a war for the lives of us all,” he added, urging citizens to take extra care “while driving, riding and walking in any road and intersection.”

Earlier this month, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli unveiled a multi-year plan aimed at improving road safety with the goal of reducing casualties by 50%.

Labor party leader and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli speaks at a confrence in Jaffa, June 7, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)

At a press briefing together with National Road Safety Authority head Avi Naor, Michaeli said that one of the planned steps is the installation of 4,000 surveillance cameras.

Naor said that “beyond the loss of life, the sorrow and pain for families,” traffic accidents cost the state NIS 15.76 billion ($4.64 billion) a year. He said the plan aimed to reduce that amount to NIS 10 billion.

Under the plan, the country will be divided into geographic clusters that will be targeted according to their specific needs.

It will place particular focus on drivers in the Arab community and young drivers, heavy goods vehicles, buses, transportation vehicles, and two-wheeled vehicles.

The five-year plan is to be formally launched in the second quarter of next year, but is dependent on approval of the 2023 state budget.

A total of 364 people were killed in traffic incidents in Israel in 2021.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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