Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

Project 700

By: Raphael Rothstein

Each year, more than 500 Israelis are killed and more 45,000 are injured, many seriously, in road accidents. The public discourse on dangerous and reckless driving habits is carried on in the media at a high pitch with transportation experts and social psychologists attributing the alarming statistics to the extreme tensions of living in a highly charged society hurling towards the next century on the crest of an economic boom accompanied by political uncertainty and the unnerving and constant threat of terrorism. In a nation of such close proximity, everyone's family and friends have been tragically affected by the daily accident toll.

So it was noteworthy when in a rare spasm of inter-ministerial harmony and cooperation, the Minister of Internal Security, Avigdor Kahalani of the Third Way faction, and the Minister of Transportation, Rabbi Yitzhak Levi of the National Religious Party, held a joint news conference at the Bet Sokolov Press Center here recently to announce a new road safety enforcement program titled "Project 700."

The name refers to the total number of inter-urban kilometers where half the fatal accidents occur. The heavily publicized campaign will utilize police helicopters and reinforce highway patrols, aided by electronic monitoring and tracking equipment, in what was described as an unprecedented level of enforcement against the chief causes of fatal accidents -- speeding, careless lane changing and inattention to traffic signals at crossings. Police officials say the new long-range enforcement program will be evaluated by a team of technical and behavioral specialists every three months to gauge its effectiveness. At the news conference there was much talk of the need to change the "driving culture" in Israel where a 1995 police study of drivers reported that 29% of those questioned admitted that they enjoyed speeding.


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