Will Israel succeed in closing the gap with Europe?

Now it's official: compared to European countries, Israel is failing in its efforts to reduce the number of deadly road accidents.

According to a status report published a month and a half ago by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), which examines the dimensions of carnage on the roads in 32 countries, and ranks the rate of their success in dealing with the problem (since 2011)- Israel is in last place.

Europe against driving and texting 

In 2011, the EU launched a comprehensive initiative to reduce road accidents. This initiative was established after the EU received data showing an uprise in fatal car accidents, which was a shift in the trend of previous years. Significant improvement in infrastructure, and especially safety measures such as airbags or ABS systems that became mandatory, made the roads safer.  In light of this, the negative trend of the last few years has stunned the Europeans.

What actually changed? 

The answer to this question is technology- but of a different kind.  To be precise: the moment when the mobile phone met the Internet and the touch screen. Since the beginning of the 90s, most countries faced the use of mobile phones while driving and gave it a fairly successful answer- the hand-free system. But the introduction of the smartphone into our lives was a completely different opera: watching YouTube clips, writing an angry tweet on Twitter, reading emails and messages on WhatsApp or playing a tumultuous game of Angry Birds – as soon as drivers started engaging in these instead of focusing on what was happening on the road – the result was obviously disastrous.

The law’s initial response to this phenomenon was not long in coming, and in Israel laws that prohibit texting and using the screen while driving – were soon adopted as well. However, deterrence and enforcement alone were not enough; Distractions as a result of illicit use of cell phones continued to claim more victims.

Along with legislative policy and a large investment in enforcement measures, in recent years Europe has been promoting changes in the road infrastructure for example, separating lanes, making them less fatal on average. 

The European numbers are certainly impressive but still quite far from the ambitious goal of zero deaths. While the continent’s average reduction is about 30%, in Norway there was a reduction of over 50% (!) and no, it’s not a consequence of the Scandinavian climate or culture. In Cyprus, for example, which is closer to us both culturally and climatically, an impressive reduction of more than 37% was recorded.

 And what about the 32nd place where Israel is located? Well, we had a cosmetic reduction of 4.7%. In practice, due to the negative trend in the last three and a half years, the situation is worse and at the current rate, even the marginal reduction will be turned. 

Isn’t it just a question of budget?

So why does Israel have such a low level of performance? One answer can be summed up in a word: Money. Countries like Greece and Norway have invested millions in preventive infrastructure. In Israel, committing to a comprehensive plan of the magnitude needed has been a problem, especially due to unstable governments over the last decade. 

Following his appointment as chairman of the Israeli National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), Avi Maor addressed the issue in an interview with the Ynet website in a cautious tone: “In the coming weeks, we will present to the Minister of Transportation the plan we formulated, with no additional budget, but existing sources, the challenge Israel is facing is a huge challenge especially when the scope of the budget is not going to change, and yet, we are hopeful it will make a difference”.

Closing the gap between Israel and Europe goes through SaverOne

This is where SaverOne’s system enters as the only alternative that offers a new and viable way to fight cellular distractions – simply by removing them from the game. SaverOne’s technology knows how to disable prohibited apps while driving. This solution can dramatically reduce the number of road accidents due to destructive cellular use, in a cost-effective way.  If officials at the Ministry of Transportation, the NRSA, and the insurance companies initiate a regulatory move, as a result of which cellular distraction prevention systems will be implemented on a large scale, there is an excellent chance that the gap with Europe will also be closed and the lives of dozens of people will be saved each year.