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PM announces road safety plan, recalling sister killed in car accident

Lapid says other countries have managed to vastly reduce fatalities, and it’s time for Israel to take action; 244 people have been killed on Israel’s roads this year

Prime Minister Yair Lapid attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on September 18, 2022. (Ronaldo Schemidt/Pool Photo via AP)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on September 18, 2022. (Ronaldo Schemidt/Pool Photo via AP)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, whose sister Michal was killed in a traffic accident in 1984, said Sunday that Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli would formally announce a plan to improve road safety.

“This fight is in our souls,” Lapid said.

“I remember the moment when I came home and both my parents were waiting for me at the door, crying, and told me that my sister had been killed in a car accident, at the age of 24,” Lapid said.

“Every accident you hear about in the media breaks up a family. What makes it even more terrible is that a great many of these accidents can be prevented with proper work,” he said.

“The State of Israel has not done enough to fight road accidents. In recent years, other countries have managed to reduce fatal accidents by dozens of percentage points because they worked correctly. Now this government is making a change and is going to work in this area as well,” he said.

The premier and his sister shared a birthday, and in 2018 he wrote an emotional Facebook post (Hebrew) after he was falsely accused of lying about her date of birth to score sympathy points.

“She was killed in a car accident at the age of 24. Since then, my birthdays are less happy. The family comes, a few friends at most, but no parties,” he wrote.

Last month, Michaeli initially unveiled a multiyear plan aimed at improving road safety with the goal of dropping casualties by 50 percent, including the installation of 4,000 traffic surveillance cameras.

Labor party leader Merav Michaeli attends a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 13, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

As of Sunday, official figures from the National Road Safety Authority showed 244 people have been killed on Israel’s roads since the start of the year.

Since the founding of the state in 1948, there have been 34,917 fatalities on the road, including 5,211 children.

Israel was 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.

According to the report, European countries on average were successfully able to reduce traffic deaths by 31 percent between 2011 and 2021, while Israel saw only a 4.7% drop over that period.

According to the Ynet news site, Israel has an average of six road deaths per billion kilometers of road use, twice the European average.

Under the government 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.

Israeli rescue and police at the site where a large sinkhole opened on the main highway in Tel Aviv, September 17, 2022. (Flash90)

The five-year plan is dependent on the passage of the 2023 state budget, which will not happen until after the November 1 elections.

Sunday’s announcement came amid traffic chaos in the center of the country as authorities sealed a 15-meter-deep (50-foot) sinkhole that opened up on a major Tel Aviv highway and continued to assess the damage caused by it.

On Sunday, Michaeli visited the site of the Ayalon Highway sinkhole — suspected to have been caused by alleged haphazard construction work on the nearby Azrieli Spiral Tower, which is slated to become Tel Aviv’s second-tallest building — and said that the Hashalom interchange would only be reopened once a full safety assessment of the area had been undertaken.

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