Israeli official: 'Wild' Arab drivers cause road accidents

Israeli official: 'Wild' Arab drivers cause road accidents
Head of Israel's National Road Safety Authority says attitude needs to change among Arab community to tackle disproportionately high accident rate.
2 min read
25 Jan, 2017
Giora Romm said that Arab-Israelis account for 30 percent of road deaths in Israel [AFP]
Israel's director of National Road Safety Giora Romm said on Tuesday that the attitude of reckless Arab drivers is causing a disproportionately high number of road accidents among the country's minority community.

Romm's comments came a day after an accident in which four people and several other were killed in northern Israel after a collision involving a speeding car.

"Even if there was some kind of dividing barrier, the life of the elderly person is the only one that would have been saved; the three younger people would have been killed in the same way," Romm told Army Radio, referring to Monday's crash victims.

"This is a matter of wild, irresponsible driving that leads to an unacceptable percentage of deaths in the Arab community."

According to the former military official, Arab Israeli citizens account for around 30 percent of road deaths, while forming only 20 percent of Israel's population.

"Since the beginning of the year there were 11 Jews and 11 Arabs killed," he added.

Monday's acccident involved a head-on collision between a car and a minibus on Israel's Route 886.

Three of the car's travellers died at the scene, while one minibus passenger, a 58-year-old woman, died later in hospital. All of the deceased were Arab-Israelis.

"There is a deep problem in the Arab community," Romm continued.

"Reckless driving and no discipline as an expression of frustration are not in the purview of the National Road Safety Authority.

This is a matter that the Arab leadership needs to deal with and it is not dealing with it as required."

Romm added that his organisation has stepped up efforts to raise awareness about safe driving in the Arab community and is willing to "meet anyone we can about the matter".

"We are going to invest a huge amount of money in this," Romm promised, explaining that the road safety authority intends to present a wide-ranging initiative to tackle the matter to Arab MKs at the end of January. 

In December, the Israeli Knesset's finance committee approved regulations that will increase fines related to road traffic offences.

Just a month prior to the approval, the country's state comptroller released a report that detailed multiple faults om the efforts of the Road Safety Authority, the Transport Ministry and the Education Ministry in trying to tackle dangerous driving.