Buses are involved in road accidents at a disproportionate rate reports the Ohr Yarok organization. In 2018, 33 people were killed in road accidents involving buses, a figure similar to the number of fatalities in bus accidents in 2017. The two fatalities in the overturn of the bus on Sunday on Route 443 add to the bloody statistics.
In 2017 buses were the most heavily involved vehicles in road accidents compared with all vehicles in Israel – 76.2 buses per 10,000 vehicles were involved in the most serious road accidents (more than private cars with 6.7, motorcycles 49, and trucks over 34 tons – 28.8).
An examination of the data on bus involvement in fatal road accidents shows that in this category buses are also in first place – 12.4 buses per 10,000 bus vehicles were involved in fatal road accidents in 2017, more than trucks over 34 tons – 11.3 and trucks up to 34 tons – 5.4.
Gil Beilin, founder and chairman of the road safety organization, a former military accident investigator, recalls that a bus is a very heavy vehicle, with a high center of gravity: “A small change of the wheel, and it can be fired into a difficult situation that cannot always be safely extricated. Even if the driver already feels the danger, the reversal may be unavoidable.” He notes that in the event of such an accident, additional factors unique to the bus, such as the dozens of passengers inside it, as well as the fact that they are not seat-belted.
“It is awful”, he says, and “That’s why a bus driver has to be very skilled, very alert and remember that more than any other vehicle on the road has responsibility for at least 50 people – and we have not counted the pedestrians and passengers in the vehicles next to him.”
Speaking to Walla News, he added, “The serious accident yesterday proves that we are not dealing with the road and not a separation fence, but the road at the scene of the accident was spacious and new and with excellent separation between the lanes,” Beilin said. “The driver is the cause of most road accidents, the human factor is responsible for hundreds of deaths every year and tens of thousands of injuries every year,” he said.
He added, “Cars are much safer today than they were 10 years ago. It turns out that accidents like yesterday also occur on new roads with built-in separation. If the driver looks ahead and drives and is not distracted, he remains alive. The most important thing is life, and this is the responsibility of anyone driving a vehicle.”
Dr. Moshe Becker, another expert in transportation safety, adds, “There is a problem with drivers. There is a decline in the number of certified experienced bus drivers. The transportation industry in Israel has undergone privatization and issuing tenders, a split that led to all the new [bus] companies, all trying to attract drivers, and this has led to compromised experience and quality of the drivers”.
A significant factor in injury to pedestrians
According to him, striking another vehicle can cause internal movement of those inside, and injury of passengers, which can lead to fatal consequences as was the case in the accident on Sunday, which claimed the lives of two women from Modi’in Illit.
The Association of Transportation Drivers in the ‘Power for Workers’ Organization shares the sorrow of the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the driver and the injured passengers. “It is regrettable to find that even at this difficult hour, even before the circumstances of the accident are clear, an accusatory finger is pointed at the bus driver. We call on the relevant authorities to show responsibility, to investigate the accident and avoid premature and irresponsible charges”.
It is added “Bus drivers have become among the most one of the most vilified workers in the Israeli labor market, and at the same time drivers are forced to cope with a constant lack of drivers in all the companies, with a shortage of some 3,500. As a result, with impossible driving demands,” the organization said. The organization added “once again calls on the Ministry of Transportation and the police to promote safety solutions for drivers as well as bus safety as a national mission.”
Yisrael Ganon, chairman of the bus drivers organization in Israel, said: “Our hearts are with the families of those killed and injured in the wake of the serious accident. We call upon the heads of the Ministry of Transport to immediately promote the driver training program initiated by the Bus Drivers Association in Israel, out of a desire to prevent such serious accidents in the future.”
The company said that the company is working in full cooperation with the rescue forces, the police and MDA, and that “the company is carrying out a preliminary investigation of the event whose findings will be transferred to the authorized bodies.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)