Adiel Shmuel, 12, of Beersheva in Israel’s northern Negev desert, died Dec. 12, 2007, of injuries from a horrific car accident that hurt six from his family and eight overall.Shmuel’s death was the 403rd of the year from car accidents in Israel.

The accident occurred just outside Beersheva. The family Subaru, driven by Shmuel’s father, was overloaded with seven people in five seats, several of whom, therefore, were not wearing seat belts.

The car was hit in the rear, and Shmuel’s father lost control of the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle that struck Shmuel’s family’s vehicle is under investigation.

Shmuel received serious head and stomach injuries in the accident and went through several operations. He survived the surgeries only to succumb in the hospital the next day.


In My Heart Editor’s Note: We couldn’t find a lot about the short and tragically abbreviated life of Adiel Shmuel, but we present his story here as an object lesson about the dangerous situation on Israel’s roads. Car accidents cause far more damage and heartbreak, not to mention economic costs, than virtually anything else in Israel, including the security situation and terrorism. There are new efforts ongoing to reduce the number of highway fatalities in the country. You will find information below on the Israeli citizens’ group Or Yarok, which is trying to change public attitudes toward risky driving behavior.

According to the citizens group Or Yarok (Green Light), which has just launched a major new safe driving campaign, there has been no significant improvement in the number of fatalities and people injured as a result of road accidents in Israel in recent years.

See Israeli TV commercial by Or Yarok, a safe-driving organization. The slogan at end, translated, is: “It’s not fate; it’s a failure to act.” (Rhymes in Hebrew)

“The citizens of this country are paying a constant annual heavy tax of about 500 dead and about 3,000 badly injured,” according to the group’s website.

The group’s goal is to change Israelis attitude toward highway accidents, which it characterized as “force majeure,” meaning nothing can help prevent them, or in Hebrew, “ain ma la’asot,” “what can you do.”

Or Yarok has been pressing the government to set the following targets for highway safety improvements: A decrease of 50% in the number of fatalities and critically injured within 5-6 years. It estimates the annual economic impact of such a reduction would be 6 billion Israeli shekels (about $1.5 billion).

The latest effort includes statements taking place during broadcasts of the hit TV show, “Born to Dance,” with participants making personal comments about the need to drive safely, use seatbelts and the like.

Statistics from recent Or Yarok surveys point to the dangerous status of Israeli roads:

  • 7.1 children out of every million people are killed each year in car accidents, more than twice countries such as the Netherlands and Germany
  • Drivers are the least likely to give the right of way to pedestrians
  • Israeli drivers are more frustrated with the way others drive than any Europ ean country.
  • Israeli drivers top the charts in terms of driving beyond the speed limit
  • Israeli drivers top the charts in terms of believing that the speed limit should be raised.
  • In comparison with European countries, Israel has a low percentage of drunken drivers.
  • The chances of being stopped and tested for alcohol by the Israeli police are close to zero.
  • 50% of Israelis talk on their cellphones while driving, more than any European nation