Back once again to a pet peeve of mine - the ongoing carnage on Israel's roads. The numbers of road deaths rose during the course of 2004 in comparison to the previous year (511 vs. 487). The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz report on the matter in very different ways. I'm not sure what the differences reveal if anything at all, but it struck me as a little curious.
The Jerusalem Post article focuses on the 23% rise in fatalities on roads in the West Bank; this due to the feeling of safety as the number of terrorist incidents has dropped and more people have gone out on the roads. West Bank roads are often windy, often in very good condition which leads to speeding (I plead guilty) but equally often in bad condition which makes driving conditions treacherous. Whatever the reasons for the accidents, it seems that the Post can be summed up as "If the terrorists don't kill us, we'll do it ourselves".
The Haaretz Article mentions the reduction of terror as a contributory factor to the rise only in passing, concentrating more on putting the figures into an overall statistical context. Despite the rise from 2003, 2004 was still a better year than either 2001 or 2002. Apparently per 100,000 head of population Israel is in a relatively good position in comparison with Europe.
The Post article, though arguably flawed journalistically due to not providing much by way of context, is to my mind more valuable in that it carries an element of shock; the Haaretz article in comparison, whilst being better written and more rounded, almost sends too positive a message; the numbers were higher but there is a reason why this should be and we are doing better than in previous years.
Acoording to Haaretz "A month ago, Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit appointed a committee to present a master plan for dealing with road accidents after pressure from Green Light, an association that works to combat traffic accidents." It is good to see the problem being addressed seriously albeit well after it should have been. Whether or not it does any good remains to be seen but as a pointer from a road user, amongs the most pressing issues to be examined should be the education of Israeli road users either existing or future. Road habits in Israel would not be acceptable in most Western countries and, together with poor road conditions and speed are the prime reason for the number of unnecessary deaths.