Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

Bereshit – Time to Rekindle Campaign for Safe Driving

When is enough enough? It seems that every day another article appears about a traffic fatality – whether killing a pregnant mother or teenager or today’s report of the death of a 40-year-old due to his vehicle colliding with a parked bus. In a country bombarded with daily reports of potential war from our closest list of enemies, can we afford to lose our citizens to road fatalities?

The Times of Israel’s headline report “Two Killed in Northern Israel car crash, bringing weekend toll to 8” concluded with the most telling statistic that “The deaths brought the number of Israelis killed in traffic accidents this year to 274, according to data from the National Road Safety Authority, 37 more than at the same time last year.”

The National Road Safety Authority is the body responsible for planning actions to increase the safety for vehicle drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, cyclists. The National Road Safety Authority just published on September 12, 2019 its Trends Report covering 2008- 2018. The summary states that “Over the past decade, 719,644 road accidents with casualties took place in Israel, including 3,867 fatalities, 20,615 seriously injured victims, and significant financial damage.”

We have just concluded the cycle of the most joyous holidays and month in the Jewish calendar – the month of Tishri and the first Torah portion of Bereshit, offering hope and optimism that the Jewish year of 5780 will be one of celebration of new beginnings. In our prayer liturgy the phrases used the most concern the prayer for shalom and peace.

The need for shalom extends to the peace of mind of being able to safety reach your destination once you enter a moving vehicle.

As an example of a private venture, in 2017 a Road Safety Pledge campaign was initiated as a way to encourage public participation in pursuing road measures for safety.

Individuals were invited to agree to the following pledge statements:

I pledge:

  1. Not to text while driving on the road, talk on a mobile phone unless it is hands-free, or wear headphones that prevent me from hearing other road users
  2. To limit conversations in the vehicle that might cause me to become distracted.
  3. To wear a seatbelt at all times and ensure that the passengers in my vehicle are securely strapped in. Baby car seats and booster seats must be secured according to the manufactures instructions.
  4. To obey the speed limit, to slow down near schools and hospitals.  I will maintain a safe distance from the car in front of me.
  5. To use my indicators at all times. In bad weather, wet or slippery roads and low visibility, I will use headlights and adjust my speed accordingly.
  6. Not to overtake on a solid white line and only when the road markings allow me to do so. I will not use the shoulder of the road to overtake another vehicle.
  7. Not to drink and drive or while under the influence of drugs. I will not drive when I am fatigued or when my reaction and response time could be impaired for any reason
  8. To be courteous and respectful of other drivers and pedestrians, or anyone who is on the street or sidewalk
  9. To ensure that my vehicle is properly maintained and my brakes and tires, including the spare, are in good order

It is time that our national resources and minds be directed to instituting a Campaign for Road Safety that will be comprehensive in its scope and serve to put the brakes on the needless road accidents that are diminishing  our most precious assets – our citizenry and our capacity to be the light unto the nations.

Let us all work together to ensure the future of our people and its safety by contributing to the discussion and demanding a Road Safety Campaign be actualized now!

About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted with MK Yehudah Glick a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education
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