At the hospital a few years ago, next to the bed of my son who had been severely injured in a car accident, I had a lot of long nights to think about how to prevent MVAs.
After consulting with the experts in the Transportation Ministry, I put together a proposed bill. And when I was elected to the Knesset, I tried to get it passed. The Transportation Ministry supported the bill. But it did not pass due to the ‘professional’ opposition of then Justice Minister Tzippy Livni and her ministry workers. This bill will be one of my first goals when, with G-d’s help, I will be in an official legislative position in Israel.
What does the bill state? Simply that when a driver recklessly injures others, he must compensate his victims from his own pocket.
If a bus driver would know that his insurance will not cover him if he is fiddling with his cell phone, would he continue to do so, or would he focus on the road?
What are we more afraid of? Running a red light, or driving without insurance? Clearly, driving without insurance is more frightening. But driving without insurance does not endanger lives. Ahh, but driving without insurance places all the responsibility for possible injury of others on me. Now that is scary.
Today, when we drive, we don’t see people. We see penalties. Mandatory insurance has eliminated the dimension of responsibility from our driving.
Everyone agrees that lack of responsibility is the main factor causing MVAs. Instead though, we focus on road infrastructure (very important) and on more and more penalties (also important) but do almost nothing to deal with the root of the problem: the dimension of responsibility.
Mandatory insurance is obviously vital. We do not want to find ourselves in a situation in which the guilty driver does not have the means to compensate his victim. But my bill said that for certain road offenses – we can call them highway bullying – (For example: Passing over a white line, entrance into the intersection after the light has been red for more than a second – and in my opinion, today we must add texting while driving) – for those crimes, the insurance company – after it has paid compensation to the victim – will have the right to sue the offending driver for the money that it paid out.
If you were a bully on the road, then you have made light of human life in a disgraceful manner (texting while driving). If you are caught, you should be punished for breaking the driving laws. But if your bad driving caused an accident and people were injured, you will have to deal with the repercussions just like divorced fathers – your salary will be frozen, you will not be allowed to exit the country and more.
Just as it is clear that a person who brings a new life into this world is also responsible for that life, even more so, the person who causes his victim to make an unplanned exit from this world must be held personally responsible.
Who is responsible? The individual or the state?
Who belongs to whom? The individual to the state or vice versa?
Centralization or liberty?
For the meantime, we will just have to manage with more and more penalties.