Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Is Road Safety an issue?

We, who pioneered road safety practice in Israel are shocked at the sudden rise in fatalities and accidents on the roads.

The new Minister who had absolutely no background in these matters apparently sacked the person in charge of the Ministry and I have no idea whom she appointed. Now she Miri Regev has been thrown to the winds but no doubt she will bounce back with yet another posting for which she is unsuited!

Merav Michaeli  has stepped up to the challenge and with her sincerity and dedication will most probably make a good job of tidying up the mess that which has been left.  She is a very special human being and I feel  that she will address this subject which by omission and commission has been neglected recently, seriously.

Since there are no longer weekly broadcasts by Shimon Vilnai, who used to inform the general public of deaths and serious injuries on our roads, we are kept in the dark. Only road accidents with horrific casualties are reported. Or cases like that of a famous woman Doctor who was killed on a scooter.

It is no secret that Israeli drivers are considered not only headstrong or should we say they put a heavy foot on the pedal, but are also selfish. Notwithstanding one only has to go to France to see how different life could be on the roads.

This is not a subject to take lightly. More people have been killed on our roads than in all of our wars. Scooters and skateboards and casual hiring of motor vehicles is risky too.

Are these lives less precious?

Absolutely nothing is more devastating to a family than road death. The reason being that it is never expected.

From the moment a son is born in our country, the mother prays that by the time he reaches eighteen there will be no more threats of war against us. Terrorism is also something that should have been tackled years ago. We do not ever seem to look at the larger picture. The ever-present threat to the lives of our dear ones.

I am not against the idea of compulsory military service for I believe that the idea of responsibility to safeguard one’s country is a positive and unifying one. Also the physical training and development of the notion that your buddy should never be left behind.

We live in an unusual place. This should be the land of Peace. The Centre of the three monotheistic faiths.

So far in this we have failed. In the last years, it has become worse due to our leadership. Turning one against the other in our own society. Something that would never have been believed.

However, Road Deaths are on the rise. They are also on roads that have been designated as dangerous. How come?

Is this another failure of our government who are using the law enforcement agencies to break up demonstrations that threaten their existence? Lives are lives and rules of behaviour, are rules. No one who hasn’t lost a family member or who has to live with one who has been incapacitated for life will ever be the same again.

Years ago,  Frank Nunneley a British Expert in Road Safety was invited to Israel by the then British Ambassador and the Metuna organisation, whose founders included Prof Gerry Ben David z’l from Nahal Soreq and Prof.Elihu Richter prominent Epidemiologist from the Hebrew University, School of Public Health and Zvi Weinberger z’l the iconic head of the Jerusalem College of Technology.

Following Frank’s presentation, Rav Yitsak Cohen who at the time was Minister of Transport and had been the guest of honour at our conference asked if we would help to arrange a visit  for him and a group of  Israeli experts in the field,to the UK.

Following the visit, Safety Circles(roundabouts) and speed bumps were introduced all over Israel.

We commenced our activities in 1993 by coincidence at the time of the tragic crash on the Arava Road where four young soldiers were killed on the way back from a holiday in Eilat.

The family of one of these soldiers supported our road safety activities and the fact that we were there to remind the people and the Government that not enough was being done to reduce tragedies on our roads.

Or Yarok who have the funds needed to do a lot to reduce road casualties and have once again appeared on our TV screens but what actually are they doing.? Only a public lobby brings changes and these have all died except those directly involved in trying to rid us of our Prime Minister. Amongst other things he Bibi has never once addressed the situation on our roads and his friend Israel Katz did nothing but import a quarter of a million new cars every year! So there we are. As Prof. Elihu Richter one of our leading experts used to say ‘you don’t get killed in a traffic jam’!

Saver One will not save lives? I wonder whose idea that was and how much money they will make?? Interested to know how many lives be saved.

Be clever, drive carefully and if you can afford it go to France. You can get a BLA BLA car from nearby and drive from Marseilles to Paris or wherever on the motorway it will cost you 30 or 40 shekels less than the train and get you to exactly where you need to go.

Remember road death is like no other….there’s no advance warning. Speed Kills. Kill Speed!

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.