According to official Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)
statistics, in the sixteen months since the start of the
current Palestinian wave of attacks, there were a total of
10967 attacks (including shootings, bombings, assaults,
stabbings and hit-and-run by vehicles) with 265 dead.
In the calendar year 2001, a total of 537 people were killed
in 472 fatal road accidents, out of a total of 17,935
accidents that took place altogether. Though the periods are
not exactly parallel, the figures are roughly double. By any
standards, the losses from road accidents are much worse.
To be sure, the road deaths do not occur in large accidents
with dozens killed and hundreds wounded as sometimes,
Rachmono litzlan, we have experienced from Palestinian
attacks. Nonetheless the deaths are just as real and the
tragedy is as great.
We must certainly do everything possible to avoid bloodshed.
The truth is that at this time, more can be done, and much
more easily, to lower road fatalities and injuries than can
be done effectively to prevent terror fatalities.
In Israel, for each 100,000 vehicles on the roads, there are
about 1,300 accidents a year and about 28 fatalities. In the
Netherlands, in contrast, for each 100,000 vehicles on the
roads, there are 288 accidents and 13 fatalities. This shows
clearly that there is much room for improvement.
In 1980 there were 45 vehicles for every kilometer of paved
road in Israel. Twenty years later, in 2000, there were 112
vehicles per kilometer. This indicates that Israel is not
investing enough in new roads, leaving the existing roads
much more crowded than they should be. This costs money in
travel delays and both money and lives in increased
There is also a need to invest much more heavily in public
transportation, which gets cars off the roads, lowers travel
time and is generally a big boost for the economy. This is
especially true of building rail-based mass transit, which is
especially effective in safely moving large masses of people
such as in the daily rush hours. Work has started in the Dan
Region and in Yerushalayim on local mass transit, but it will
require several years until the first trains roll.
There is also an important role in Israel for intercity rail
transportation. The service between Tel Aviv and Haifa is
very successful, because it is fast, frequent and well-run.
The heavily travelled route from Yerushalayim to Bnei
Brak/Tel Aviv, with a stop at the airport, is certainly one
that would pay rich dividends in more efficient travel and
lives saved. These investments should be accelerated.
Last and certainly not least is what we can do immediately,
to reduce the danger to ourselves and those around us. We
must walk carefully, especially when crossing streets. We
must drive carefully and responsibly, and not allow ourselves
to be distracted by other passengers or telephone
conversations. And we can buckle ourselves and all of our
passengers up. Study after study has found that the major
injuries to passengers involved, Rachmono litzlan, in
collisions come from the impact of the person hitting parts
of the car or, what is much worse, being thrown free and
hitting the ground.
In the zchus of our strict fulfillment of the mitzvah
of venishmartem me'od lenafshoseichem may we be saved
from these fearsome dangers.