Officials Declare Citizen Traffic Enforcement Program a Success

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israel traffic police. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Over 11,000 traffic offenses – 20 percent of them dangerous enough to be life-threatening – were recorded in the second half of 2016 alone by ordinary citizens who participated in the Netiv Batuach (Safe Routes) program, which allows concerned citizens to participate in traffic enforcement by providing police with extra pairs of eyes. Participants take pictures of incidents and send them on to the Israel Road Safety Association, a joint project of the Israel Police and the Transport Ministry.

Among the most prevalent traffic offenses were drivers running red lights and crossing a solid white line. Offenders were recorded by members of the program, and the evidence was analyzed by police, who issued summonses for the amount owed for specific offenses.

Because the summonses are issued on the basis of witness testimony backed by photos, however, and legal experts said that drivers who appeal the tickets are often able to get the cases against them dropped, due to factors such as identity issues (those taking the pictures are not supposed to approach offenders, so they may not be able to identify them), and that the photos did not take into account circumstances that affected their action.

However, said officials of the Road Safety Administration, most drivers admit their wrongdoing, and pay up. Officials said that they believed the program had a positive effect, even if summonses could not be issued under all circumstances, since drivers were more likely to drive safely if they know someone might be watching and recording their actions.