A man was killed in a car accident in the eastern Lower Galilee Wednesday, bringing the number of deaths on a 10-kilometer stretch of Route 71 to four in three days. Another man was seriously injured in the accident, in which a truck and a car collided on the road, which connects Afula and Beit Shean.
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The accident occurred when the driver of the car swerved into the opposite lane and crashed into the truck, according to the initial investigation.
A 40-year-old Givatayim resident was also killed Wednesday when his car crashed into a minibus along Route 71 near Tel Yosef Junction. Police are still investigating which driver swerved out of his lane. The man’s name was withheld at his family’s request.
On Monday, two women, a grandmother and her granddaughter, were killed on the road. Police said Lila Bergman, 74 and Ellen Friedson, 24, were hit head-on by a truck that had swerved left to avoid hitting a car ahead of it. The women were declared dead at the scene after resuscitation efforts.
Traffic on Route 71, which has one lane in each direction and very narrow shoulders, has become much heavier over the past few years. A planned railway line, to run parallel to the road and connect Beit Shean and Haifa, is supposed to reduce traffic.
Several years ago, the Emek Hamayanot Regional Council, within which Route 71 is located, asked then Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz to expand the road between Beit Shean and Navot Junction. The council noted in its request that the road is a major artery between the eastern and western parts of the country, handling traffic from the Beit Shean and Jordan valleys as well as the southern Golan Heights.
It also said that since the peace agreement with Jordan, hundreds of trucks had been plying the road from the Haifa Port to the Sheikh Hussein Bridge over the Jordan River. Traffic jams behind the slow-moving vehicles were frequent because there is only one lane in each direction “and some drivers lose patience and attempt to pass when it is dangerous to do so.”