Why Is A Busdriver With 22 Traffic Violations still Driving?

I was saddened to hear the news about the fatal bus crash that claimed 25 lives off Highway 12, just north of Eilat.


In the deadliest traffic accident in Israel’s history, 25 people were killed and 33 were injured Tuesday afternoon, as a private bus carrying travel agents from St. Petersburg, Russia, headed to Eilat from the Ovda Airfield in southern Israel, plunged into a dry river bed about 1.8 miles north of the resort town.

The bus driver had reportedly attempted to speed past another tour bus on a twisting road in a no-passing zone, when he crashed through a guardrail and then rolled 80 meters down the slope, overturning again and again in mid-air before hitting the bottom of the desert ravine. Some of the passengers were flung out of the bus.

Emergency search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched to the scene of the accident, which was promptly declared a mass casualty event. Upon arriving, the team found the bus had plummeted down a 45-feet chasm, apparently flipping over several times, as it was found to be completely crushed.

Evacuating the injured from the bottom of the ravine took nearly an hour.

“We need doctors here,” was shouted over and over as first-aid was administered to dozens of injured people. The ground was lined with body bags.

Thirty-three people were hurt, including 23 in serious condition.

The 39-year-old bus driver, who sustained serious injuries, had 22 prior traffic convictions. While police officers said that was not unusual for someone who has been on the road for 20 years, they also said they believe he drove at a dangerously high speed for such a winding road.

As the gravity of the situation unfolded, the MDA sent paramedics to Eilat via plane to reinforce the local station. The Health Ministry called on medical personnel in Eilat to rush to the Yoseftal Medical Center in order to assist with the triage efforts of the victims; as did the Leumit Health Fund, which ordered 40 doctors and nursed attending a conference in the city to report to the hospital.

There was chaos at the scene of the accident, with the bodies of victims lying on the ground and debris scattered everywhere. Dozens of ambulances rushed to the site, which eyewitnesses said seemed like the scene of a massive terrorist attack or a combat zone.

The air force dispatched six helicopters to evacuate the seriously injured to hospitals across the country.
Michel Elkaslasy, the owner of the company which rented out the bus to the tourist’s travel agency, rushed to the scene as soon as news of the crash broke. He told Ynet that “the tourists arrived from Russia. “The sight was horrible. The bus is upside-down at the end of nowhere… The bus apparently lost control. I see bodies scattered everywhere.”

The more seriously injured victims of the crash were those who were thrown out of the bus, while those who were still inside were generally in better condition.

The steep road winding to Eilat is dotted with signs warning drivers to be careful.
An eyewitness said the bus was speeding recklessly when it veered off the road.

“The bus overtook in a reckless manner while speeding, went out to overtake another bus – I saw him and he almost overtook me – suddenly he turned left and then dropped,” the eyewitness told Israel Radio.

After the accident was reported, the Health Ministry called on doctors and nurses vacationing in the Eilat area to volunteer and help the relatively small staff of the city’s Josephthal Hospital in treating the victims. Dozens of medical staffers responded to the call.

Scores of soldiers and officers who were returning from vacations were the first to tend to the injured.
“I was in shock. I’m turning this over in my head – these things happen in the worst scenarios,” the eyewitness said.

President Shimon Peres spoke Tuesday evening with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, sent the country’s deepest condolences, and said “we feel as if this tragedy happened to us.” Peres said that while the accident was caused by the mistake of one person, “the pain is felt by all of Israel.”

I was just in Israel and witnessed myself how taxi drivers and Israeli citizens drive much too fast and too close together. They weave in and out of each others” lanes without using their blinkers.

More than 30,000 people have died in traffic accidents since the State of Israel was established in 1948, a number that is greater by 6,000 than the total number of people killed in Israel’s wars.

If someone asks me if it is dangerous in Israel, I tell them that my chances are greater to be killed in a car accident than by an Islamic Jihad warrior. Road accidents are among the most distressing daily occurrences in Israel.

My husband saved my life a couple of times holding me back, when I was trying to cross the road because the pedestrian light was green. I learned that in Israel, cars don’t necessarily stop at a red light.
In Kiryat Shmona children were trying to cross the street next to a school, when a driver almost hit them. He was shouting out of the car at the children. My husband shouted back at him, that he was the one who needed to stop.

Why is a bus driver with 22 prior traffic convictions still allowed to drive passengers for a private bus company? In most other countries his driver’s license would have been revoked a long time ago.


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