Back in the States, when it was time to renew our car insurance we received once, among the other official papers, an offer to take defensive driving– a refresher course. In return we were guaranteed a sizable discount on our payments. It sounded like a very good deal and we decided to attend. We were not the only ones, there were at least forty other people in the room and they all came for the same reason. The course was informative and entertaining and at its end we got the necessary document for the insurance.
That was the way things were done in the US, incentives were often used in order to bring about change. But things are different here in Israel. I was reminded of this course yesterday, when I heard an interview on Hakol Dibourim (It’s All Talk). Adi Meiri spoke with a driving instructor who teaches defensive driving to those who are required to take a refresher course after five years on the road. The instructor said that even experienced drivers are not aware of all the new regulations, and suggested a refresher course every 15 years.
The instructor was right. There are, of course the mandatory defensive driving courses for drivers who committed traffic violations. But like refresher CPR courses, all drivers could benefit from such a course and many future accidents could be prevented..
Normally you don’t hear important interviews like this on the radio, but this was a special morning, a day after the lethal accident near Lehavim intersection in which a truck collided with a bus full of passengers from the Beduin town of Hura. Eight women were killed and many others were injured.
Sadly many Israelis have never visited Hura or even heard its name, and as the accident was one of the worst in recent history, it is likely that for a while longer the name Hura will be remembered only because of the recent unnecessary tragedy.
But I would like to remember happier times at Hura not that long ago.
Hura, which has almost twenty thousand residents, is an active community between Shoket intersection and Arad. I was there just last May for the joyous opening of an art exhibition “Hura Paintings.” The exhibition was curated by the artist and teacher Moshe Balmas, who has been working in Hura as part of the “Artist Project” of the Ministry of Culture and Sport. Moshe invited several well- known Israeli artists, among them the New Barbizon group, to come to Hura and paint what they saw. The exhibition also featured some paintings by Moshe’s young local students
The result was a delightful exhibition which portrayed the town and its surroundings from different and unexpected angles. It was clear that Hura Community Center was a vibrant center and the home for many other cultural and educational activities .At that morning the room was full with local community members and guest who came to see the paintings and meet the artists.
At this sad time I would like to extend my condolence to the community of Hura and hope that some lessons will be learnt from the tragedy. Towns like Hura desperately need better roads and better accessibility, but we should invest time and money in education and bring about change in the way drivers and especially truck drivers conduct themselves on the road.