Israel tests 'smart sign' to reduce traffic accidents

Friday, April 27, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Most people are aware that Israel is afflicted by terrorism, but few realize the Holy Land is plagued by an even more prolific killer - traffic accidents.

In 2005, there were nearly 17,000 traffic accidents in Israel resulting in injuries or death. Nearly 500 people were killed on Israel's roads that year, and the numbers are not decreasing.

A driving instructor who spoke to The Jerusalem Post last month noted that since 1948, roughly 25 percent more Israelis have been killed in traffic accidents than in wars and terrorist attacks.

Israel's Ministry of Transportation has launched a massive public relations campaign in an effort to stem the trend, but it seems to be having little if any effect so far. In March 2007 alone, Israelis were involved in 2,219 traffic accidents, leaving 44 people dead and another 1,211 injured.

Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa hope their latest invention can make a difference.

The "smart traffic sign" developed by Dr. Yotam Abramson and his team uses two video cameras installed at an intersection to identify collision risks and notify drivers of the danger using flashing lights on large "give the right of way" signs, reported the Post.

The system is to be installed on a trial basis at a high-risk intersection in Tel Aviv, where the absence of traffic lights and confusion over who has the right of way has resulted in many accidents.

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