UN report: Pedestrian death rate in Israel highest in West
The number of pedestrians killed in Israel is proportionally much higher than in other western countries, according to a report compiled by the United Nations. Pedestrians make up 37 percent of traffic accident casualties in Israel, compared to 25 percent in Britain, which is second, and 10 percent in Belgium, which has the lowest number of pedestrian casualties, the report says.
According to the Israel Police, human error - reflected by traffic law violations and negligence by drivers and pedestrians - accounts for the majority of road accidents here. Among the main reasons for fatal accidents the report lists excessive speed, which in 2002 was responsible for 16 percent of the reasons for fatal accidents, traffic violations such as ignoring traffic lights or not yielding right of way (19 percent), and veering off course (11 percent).
Another common factor is pedestrian behavior that makes up 18 percent of the reasons for fatal accidents. Road conditions and technical reasons cause less than 1 percent of fatal accidents, although the report writers believe they did not get sufficient data on this.
One out of every 172 Israelis was hurt in a traffic accident in 2002 - 5.8 people per thousand - according to the report published by the Transport Ministry's Council for Traffic Safety.
Last year 525 died in traffic accidents, 3 percent less than the previous year. The report says 52 percent of those who died in accidents were injured in the vehicle, 34 percent were run down as pedestrians, and 14 percent were riding a motorcyle or bicycle.
The age group most injured in road accidents are young people aged 15-24, the main reason being the large number of young people who are involved in accidents anyway, as drivers or passengers. This is much higher on average than other age groups. On the other hand, the group greatest at risk are the over-65s.
The monthly average of accidents is highest in July and August, and lowest in February, March and April. During winter months there are fewer fatalities in traffic accidents, despite driving difficulties caused by rain, low visibility, and shorter daylight hours.
On average more people are killed in accidents on Sunday than on other days, although there is also a peak on Fridays and holiday eves.
In inter-city roads the number of people hurt in traffic accidents peaks between the 5 P.M. to 7 P.M. rush hour, when people drive home from work in much larger numbers than in the morning rush hour. In inter-city roads the number of people hurt in accidents during the afternoon is also higher, but less drastically so than on urban roads.
One of the proved methods to reduce the injury in accidents is wearing a safety belt and fastening children in safety seats. However, surveys conducted recently indicate that while 85 to 90 percent of front seat passengers fasten their seat belts, only about 40 percent of back seat passengers do. If all the drivers and passengers involved in accidents in 2002 had fastened their safety belts, the lives of at least 30 of them would have been saved, according to the report.
The driver's age is one of the most dominant factors in his involvement in fatal and severe traffic accidents. Young drivers are involved in more accidents both due to their inexperience and to their driving style. Among drivers up to age 18, 30 out of 10,000 are involved in fatal and bad accidents. The number goes down to 18.2 among the 19 to 24 age group and reaches 9.7 to 10,000 at the age of 45 to 54.
Drivers older than 54 are more involved in accidents. The report attributes this to a reduction in alertness and skill.
Most road accidents in 2002 - about 73 percent - take place on urban roads while only 27 percent on inter-city roads. However, due to the lower speed of driving in towns, these accidents tend to be less severe. Out of 456 fatal accidents in 2002, only 41 percent occurred on urban roads.
The most frequent accidents on urban roads is frontal-side collision, which is characteristic of collisions at intersections. The most frequent type of accident in urban areas is hitting pedestrians. Half of the pedestrians who were killed were hit while crossing the road not at an intersection.
Sources in the Road Safety Council say that in 2003 there was an effort to increase law enforcement mainly by operating an electronic system and special attention to high risk roads.