Meet the Israeli company bringing safer driving to the US


As road crash deaths rise in the U.S., an innovative Israeli startup is using 3D visualization to identify safety deficiencies in new and old roads.

Road crashes are the leading cause of death in the United States for people under the age of 54. There are a staggering 12.4 deaths per 100,000 people (that’s 36,500 fatalities) annually, with a total of 4.5 million people injured enough to need medical attention.

All this comes at a grave economic cost: $340 billion in 2019, including some $30 billion in direct taxpayer costs. And 2021 was even worse, with 42,915 people killed on American roads, the highest in a single year since 2005.

One major contributing factor to this tragic story is poor lines-of-sight, which are notoriously hard to envision when planning a new road or highway.

Natan Elsberg was working as a civil engineer for transportation in the United States when he decided in 1993 to emigrate to Israel. He started out doing roadway design in the Jerusalem area, eventually establishing his own consulting firm, RDV Systems (RDV stands for “rapid design visualization”) in 2005.

Originally a 3D design visualization firm specializing in planning highways and infrastructure, RDV is now focusing on road safety.

“We didn’t have market dominance in 3D design,” Elsberg explains. “There are many other companies out there. We had negotiations with the leaders in CAD [computer aided design] and were almost bought out. That’s when we realized that we were the only people doing 3D for safety matters. Safety is a very different kind of proposition. You can’t do it with just a couple of still frames.”