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A 41-year-old pedestrian, Imad Basoul of Nazareth, was killed about six weeks ago in a hit-and-run accident in Reina in the Lower Galilee. A car leaving Reina hit Basoul as he was crossing the road. The force of the impact threw him into the opposite lane, where he was hit again by an oncoming car.

A few days later, two more pedestrians were killed in separate accidents. A 70-year-old man died instantly after being hit while trying to cross the road near the Sirah junction on the coastal road. He had just emerged from the bushes on the highway divider when he was struck. Musa Abu Amra, 40, was killed when a car hit him near Be'er Sheva. That driver fled the scene.

The number of traffic accidents involving pedestrians has grown in recent years and they now comprise about one-third of all traffic deaths. According to police traffic statistics for January-September 2003, a total of 119 pedestrians were killed, including 31 children (up to age 14) and 53 older adults (age 60 and over). The statistics also show that 67 percent of the pedestrian fatalities occured within city limits.

Although 26 more pedestrians died during the same period last year, the head of the Police Traffic Division, Major General Yaakov Raz, is still concerned. He says traffic fatalities involving pedestrians have reached worrisome proportions in recent years, especially with regard to children and older adults. Children, Raz says, are unaware of the dangers and older adults may be less alert and their vision is sometimes impaired.

Data collected and analyzed by the police planning and development division shows that from January-September 2003, 8 percent of traffic injuries involved pedestrians. Among the 2,331 pedestrians hurt, 27 percent were children and 20 percent were older adults.

The data also shows that during the same period, 94 percent of the 1,306 accidents involving injuries to pedestrians took place within city limits. Of these, 65 percent occured along the street rather than at a junction. Ninety-two of these accidents involved at least one fatality. Of the accidents taking place at a junction (61 per cent of which had no traffic lights), 23 involved at least one fatality.

In Jerusalem, pedestrians were involved in 69 percent of all accidents during that time period. In Bnei Brak, the percentage was 68, in Holon 61 percent, in Petah Tikva 59 percent, and in Be'er Sheva, 59 percent.

Another worrying statistic is that in 34 percent of pedestrian-related accidents, a vehicle did not yield right-of-way to pedestrians at a crosswalk. In 30 percent of the accidents, pedestrian behavior was blamed. Backing-up was cited in 8 percent and in 5 percent, the car involved was speeding.