The phenomenon of tired drivers is common and very dangerous, especially on Lag Ba’Omer, when thousands of people return from an all-night event at the grave site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai at Meron in Northern Israel.
To properly combat this problem, police officers from the Jordan Valley region, in conjunction with volunteers and the local municipality, have initiated a stop-over refreshment station on one of the main routes from Meron. The aim is to identify tired drivers and enable them to freshen up. They are offered beverages and light refreshments, a place to rest, wipes to cool themselves and various materials on safe driving. The station is open throughout the day.
This is the second year the station is operating. It has great significance when looking back at previous accidents that occurred on Lag Ba’Omer, especially the one in 2009 in which five passengers were killed in a head-on collision with a bus. It is assumed that the driver fell asleep on the way back from Meron.
The police officers volunteered to run this station to minimize such occurrences. Chezi, one of the volunteers on site, told Tazpit News Agency that thousands of cars come through the check point, and all drivers are invited to pull over and freshen up; the drivers admit that they are fatigued to the point that they are practically sleeping at the wheel. He told of one incident in which a driver was basically asleep, but refused to pull over. His wife, sitting in the back seat, began to shout at him, accusing him of driving as if he was inebriated. He finally agreed to stop for a rest, and that may have prevented another accident, saving lives.
“This is not the first year the station is active”, Chezi said, “The drivers are used to finding us here on Lag Ba’Omer. Last year we were successful in completely preventing car accidents on this route, and we hope to be successful this year as well. It’s important for the police officers that drivers maintain their well-being”.