TEL AVIV (Nov. 7)
A recent rash of traffic accidents has renewed public debate here on what to do to halt the carnage on Israel’s road.
Israel has had one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the world, killing considerably more Israelis than are dying at the hands of Arab terrorists.
Concerns about the death rate on Israel’s roads were highlighted over the weekend, when 11 people were killed in traffic accidents, one of the heaviest tolls here in a comparable period.
Their deaths brought to 30 the number of road fatalities during the past week — far higher than the average of 10 traffic deaths per week registered during the past year.
Some of the victims were pedestrians, struck by vehicles while crossing urban streets.
But most victims were drivers with relatively little experience behind the wheel — teen-agers and men and women in their early 20s.
Most were driving home from parties or places of entertainment in the small hours of the morning, all at excessive speeds, police said.
Some participants in the ongoing debate on how to check the situation point the finger of blame at substandard road conditions.
Others blame a recent reduction in the minimum driving age to 171/2.
Many others blame the week-old increase in maximum speed limits on certain highway sections from 55 to about 60 miles per hour.
New drivers under the age of 18 have for more than a year been banned from driving cars on weekend nights from midnight to 5 a.m.
But opponents of this move say the teens are just drinking more than they had before, spending the nights in bars and nightclubs before proceeding home in the morning, intoxicated.