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November 6, 1986     The Jewish Transcript
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November 6, 1986

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National/international III I IIIIIIII III I III New system may improve Israel's bad drivers New York (JTA) -- A new system of computerized infrared traffic monitors developed at the Jerusalem College of Technology OCT) is expected to drastically improve Israel's horrendous record of highway accident fatalities, which is one of the highest per capita in the world. The device, known as "black boxes," is presently being tested in Israel and shows great promise of rapidly curbing dangerous driving habits, according to a report to the Cabinet in Jerusalem by the Israel Center for Driving Research and Injury Preven- tion. It consists of an electro-optic traffic monitor with a built-in video camera designed by a JCT team headed by Joseph Bodenheimer and Gerry Ben-David. The devices are mounted between pairs of 20-foot-high pylons on each side of the highways. The monitors provide com- puterized photographic printouts of every vehicle using the highways. The printout records the speed of the vehicle and the distance between it and the vehicle im- mediately ahead. The data enable police to record speeding and tail-gating violations, two of the prin- cipal causes of highway accidents. Ac- cording to the police, the system is more ac- curate and flexible than radar monitoring. Since the State of Israel was founded in 1948, some 14,500 persons have been killed in road accidents and 185,000 injured. This is significantly higher per kilometer trav- elled than in most developed countries. Traffic deaths in Israel in fact are the principal cause of death among young peo- ple and the main cause of brain damage, paralysis and other permanent disabilities. More Israelis have been killed or injured on highways than in all of the country's wars since 1948. Drunk driving is not the major problem in Israel. The Center for Driving Research attributes the high accident rate to dangerous but preventable driving habits, the worst being excessive speed, reckless passing and tail-gating. According to Ben-David, "We don't have to spend millions of dollars and wait years before we see change in driving habits. The best way to prevent accidents and to save lives is to make the drivers afraid to drive unsafely." Apparently, Israelis at the wheel fear traffic summonses more than the conse- quences of reckless driving. An interna- tional conference on driver safety will be held at the JCT in Jerusalem in January 1987. [] Yam Kippur parking tickets may get special consideration NEW YORK (JTA) -- Some 30 Yam Kippur worshippers at a Lower Manhattan synagogue are expected to seek forgiveness from the city's Parking Violations Bureau (PVB). Rabbi Samuel Gedalowitz of the Or- thodox Civic Center Synagogue said the 30 or so worshippers had parked before sun- down Sunday, Oct. 12 -- the beginning of Yam Kippur -- in zones marked to prohibit parking from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. They were ticketed the next day. "On Christmas no tickets are given," the rabbi explained. "On our holiest holiday they should give us the same courtesy." On Oct. 17, the Jewish Community Rela- tions Council of New York (JCRC) got in- volved, announcing it would forward original tickets for parking in a loading zone during Yam Kippur along with a letter to PVB, saying in a press release that PVB judges "will give these cases special con- sideration." Gedalowitz said such a large block of tickets never had been issued to his wor- shippers on any previous Yam Kippur. [] I II I I Two liver transplants performed in Israel Tel Aviv (JTA) -- Israel's second liver transplant patient was described in "very serious" condition following surgery and will probably have to undergo additional surgery to save his life, according to Ram- barn Hospital in Haifa. He was identified by the hospital Mon- day as Eliahu Schreier, 59, of Moshav Shoresh near Jerusalem. He has had a liver ailment for seven years and was transferred to Rambam from Hadassah Hospital after his condition deteriorated. Rambam is presently the only hospital in Israel licensed to perform liver transplants. The operation was performed by Dr. Yigal Kam. Kam said complications oc- curred during surgery and the patient will almost certainly need corrective surgery to halt internal bleeding. Meanwhile, Kam's first liver transplant patient, Mira Schichmanter, 40, continued to improve Monday, though doctors said she is still not out of danger. Schichmanter, the mother of two, underwent surgery for 20 hours Oct. 22. She remains in an inten- sive care unit but is now breathing without the aid of a respirator and is able to have short visits by her family. Liver transplants hitherto were not per- mitted in Israel because of objections by the religious authorities; patients needing them for survival were forced to go abroad for surgery. Dr. Kam trained in the technique in Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Rambam Hospital claims to be the first in Israel with full facilities to perform the complex operation. It received permission in principle several months ago. The specific license to operate on Schichmanter was issued by Health Minister Shoshana Arbeli-Amoslina, her first act after taking office in the new Cabinet. She gave approval without con- sulting the halachic authorities because time was of the essence. Schichmanter, from Kfar Saba, suffered from a chronic liver ailment for seven years. Her health deteriorated recently and according to hospital sources only a transplant could save her life. The donor was a 19-year-old woman soldier, Revital Brandt of Kibbutz Shaar Ha'amakin, who was killed in a road accident earlier this week. The Chief Rabbinate has established a committee of rabbis and medical doctors to consider the issue of liver and heart transplants. The problem lies in the dif- ference between medical and rabbinical definitions of death. According to medical science, death occurs when the brain ceases to function. Religions tradition considers a person to be alive as long as the heart beats. But hearts can be kept beating by artificial means long after the brain dies. Livers suitable for transplant must be ex- tracted while a donor's heart is still pump- ing blood. Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira said that he is praying for Schichmanter's life and health, but that the definition of death has yet to be settled. 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