Drivers under the age of 35 passing through an unlit junction at night are the likeliest motorists to be involved in a fatal accident with another vehicle, according to a recently completed study by Or Yarok, a nonprofit organization working to prevent accidents.
There were 444 road accident fatalities in Israel in 2008, an increase of 4 percent over the year before, according to the National Road Safety Authority.
Last year was the first time in four years that the annual traffic casualty count did not drop. Or Yarok used a data base of 1,793 accidents with one fatality or more between 2003 and 2006. It found that the likeliest to die in a vehicular accident were drivers between 25 and 35 years old.
Don't forget your seatbelt
The study found a 23.5 percent incidence of experiencing a fatal accident at unlit junctions in Israel. Those not wearing a seat belt were likelier to experience an accident.
The second-highest risk group (16.5 percent) involved fatal accidents with only one vehicle and young motorists driving at night down an intercity road without any lighting.
Next, with 12 percent of the fatalities were motorcyclists, who died in collisions with other vehicles or struck objects. Most of the fatal motorbike accidents involved the elderly or young cyclists and occurred primarily inside cities.
Some 40 percent of all accidents involving motorcycles and bicycles happened to people 25 to 35 years old, and most happened in Tel Aviv.
Look out for intercity roads at night
The accident group most likely to be injured, after those on a a cycle or a bike, were elderly pedestrians crossing a city thoroughfare at a crosswalk, typically in the Tel Aviv area, accounting for 10.5 percent of the fatalities.
A third of all fatal accidents involving pedestrians ended the life of an elderly person.
Last, children suffer 7 percent of the deaths in fatal road accidents. Typically this happens in small Arab village or town or a child walks in front of a moving vehicle driving down a road.
Twenty-two percent of fatal accidents involving pedestrians occurred on intercity roads at night, after the pedestrian stepped into the road without warning. Of these accidents, 20 percent involved children who were younger than age 14 and occurred in small Arab towns and villages.
In a third of all road accident fatalities, an Arab Israeli died. Most of those in this group died in an accident involving only one vehicle and those killed were not wearing their seat belts.
Most deadly accidents involving one vehicle and no pedestrians happened to drivers under the age of 35 in an urban area. Of them, many were not wearing seat belts and 28 percent were Arab.
The researchers who compiled the study used the accident data to see if the mishaps could be characterized so as to identify patterns and their root causes.
For this purpose, the researchers constructed 49 prototypes of accidents, or situations, which were analyzed from different points of departure. This analysis yielded typical patterns.
Fatal accidents involving two or more vehicles mostly involved young drivers on an intercity road and mostly occurred in the morning and afternoon.
A third of all fatal vehicular accidents on intercity roads involved Jewish motorists driving at night who were not wearing their seat belts.
Another third of all vehicular accidents with one car or more involved Arabs. The latter type of accident occurred mostly in the north, on stretches of road with inadequate lighting.
The study's data, according to Or Yarok, can greatly assist the authorities in working to prevent accidents. "These findings show where and how the Ministry of Transportation should focus its efforts, where the problems lie and where investment is needed to prevent the next fatality," said a prominent member of the nonprofit group, which was founded in 1997 "in recognition of the critical importance of the uncompromising struggle against traffic accidents."
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