Crossing Solid Line Proves Fatal for Four

Six people have died in the past two days on a treacherous stretch of Route 66, long known to be deadly.

Three years ago, a day after four members of the Isa family from Jat, near Kibbutz Hazorea, were killed in a traffic accident there, Major General Shahar Eilon, then chief of the traffic police, considered closing Route 66 to traffic.

"Until a solution is found to the problematic infrastructure of Route 66, I am not willing for another family to die here," Eilon said then.

Since then, the road has claimed 10 lives - six in the past two days. In Wednesday's accident, very close to the site where the Isa family perished, four persons were killed. On Tuesday, two kilometers to the north, two people were killed.

Wednesday's accident occured when the driver of a sedan, a resident of Rosh Ha'ayin, going from Megiddo to Yokne'am, overtook another vehicle - in spite of not being allowed to do so - and hit a taxi coming from the opposite direction. The vehicle being overtaken was also struck in the accident.

As a result of the crash, two people died on the spot, and two others were in critical condition and trapped in the mangled cars.

Emergency crews rescued the injured and tried to revive them, but they both died a short while later.

The dead are the drivers of the two cars, and the women sitting next to them. The two grand-daughters of the woman who died in the taxi were injured in the back seat. In the car whose driver overtook, his wife, who was sitting in the back was injured.

A total of six persons were injured, three lightly, two moderately, and one seriously. All were taken to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

The section of Route 66 between the Megiddo junction in the south, and the Tishbi junction in the north, which is 14 kilometers long, has claimed the lives of 18 persons during the past three and a half years.

A police officer once described this section of the road "the Bermuda Triangle."

It is a single lane road with many turns - the kind of road described as "unforgiving," the sort where a single mistake or traffic violation can claim a dear price in the lives of passengers. In some of the road's turns, the field of vision is limited.

The volume of traffic on Route 66 has increased considerably since the opening of Highway 6. Heavy trucks ply the road, carrying goods to and from Haifa port.

Two and a half years ago the Transport Ministry promised that the volume of traffic would return to normal following the opening of section 18 of the Trans-Israel Highway [Highway 6] and the Ein Tut interchange. But the segment of road promised has still not open and traffic on Route 66 has only increased.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said yesterday: "The events of the past day have been difficult. Route 66 received pinpoint attention to specific problems in the past year, with barriers separating the two lanes in its northern section."

Indeed, during the past year no one had been killed on the road, but the past two days were particularly lethal.

Chief Inspector Shimon Ben Sabo, head of the traffic patrol in the Valleys District Police, said that "the two accidents of recent days were cause by serious traffic violations. These were caused by attempts to overtake where it is forbidden."

Mofaz instructed the Public Works Authority yesterday to evaluate the dangerous sections again and find solutions for better safety.

However, Mofaz also reminded drivers yesterday that safety is also in their hands.

Green Light, a traffic safety watchdog, said that Route 66 is seriously flawed and pointed to the fact that the single lanes are not separated by a concrete wall, and insufficient lighting..