Israelis have long questioned who is to blame for the rise in traffic fatalities in the past five years. There was a time, for almost a decade, when traffic fatalities were on a steady decline. Road deaths fell 47% between 2002 and 2012.
The Transportation Ministry proposed a goal of decreasing traffic deaths by a rate of 5% annually, yet between 2012 and 2016, there was an increase in traffic fatalities, with reports of as much as a 28% increase in deaths.
Statistics and reports really don’t explain why there’s a rise in car crash injuries and death. Safety equipment has improved, cars are safer than ever, so what’s the problem?
Law enforcement is a good starting area. The National Road Safety Authority planned to install 300 cameras at the most dangerous roadways in Israel, but this process has been slow-going. The number of cameras remained below 50% for far too long.
Traffic policemen have also been reduced. A reduction in over 100 traffic policemen occurred, leading to fewer police to keep drivers following the rules. Budget constraints have been cited by Israeli police as one of the main reasons for traffic deaths rising.
The public doesn’t feel like they’ll be caught when they break traffic laws. Israel was also supposed to spend NIS 400 million on “red roads,” yet this remained severely under-budgeted for years, with an annual budget of NIS 200 million. The Transportation Ministry has called for higher budgets, with surveys finding that the red roads that were focused on have seen a 50% drop in accidents.
Lacking budgets have resulted in NIS 15+ billion being the estimated total cost of all accidents annually – far higher than the budget requirement of just NIS 80 million to add more patrols, provide training to 300 students and add an additional 200 cameras in dangerous areas.
But I am confident that the fatalities will once again fall. News broke in November 2017 that Israel has allocated $227 million to help increase the safety of roads on the West Bank. There will also be new roads built to bypass certain Palestinian cities.
Terrorist attacks in the West Bank have led to widescale protests from Israeli families that have lost loved ones on the roads.
Sections of the road that are prone to shooting attacks will also receive wall protection.
But this is just one area of improvement. There’s also the Valerann system, which is being produced around the world. The systems will cut costs by 90% to install “smart roads” that have sensors and can collect critical crash data.
Valerann is an Israeli startup, and the company has proof of concept projects ongoing in the United States and United Kingdom. With 4% of the world’s roads only having access to this critical crash data, Valerann has the potential to shed some more light on what’s happening on Israel’s roadways.
The systems will also be able to communicate with autonomous vehicles and navigation systems to provide road alerts. While this is just one step forward in making Israel’s roads safer, the use of smart roads and increased budgets from the government may be able to lower the death rates on Israel’s roads.