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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

U.S. Tourists Forewarned: In Israel, Beware the Terrorist Israeli Driver

Many snows ago when we lived in Israel, I drove our trusty Citroën “station.”  Not only did I drive, but Israel is where I learned to drive a stick shift.

I will never forget stalling at a 5-point intersection (I think it was in the Emek Refaim neighborhood of Jerusalem), with El Busso-Biggo breathing down my neck to the right, and irate drivers in front, behind and on the side, screaming obsenities and honking at me—and I was so nervous, I couldn’t start the d---mn car!

When I visited Israel in 2005 after twenty-four years being away, I was appalled at the driving; if anything, it had gotten worse, because of the increased congestion.  I actually got behind the wheel once and tried driving in Petach Tikva onto the highway, but with poor signage and aggressive, honking and tail-gating drivers, I couldn't continue.  I actually pulled over on the shoulder of the highway (I was lucky there was a shoulder) and told my son to take over (ok, I'm a wimp).  Since then I have never driven there, and honestly don't know how I will get up the gumption to do so in the future. 

Well, folks, it wasn’t just me:  (as seen on JTA, from YNet) it looks like the U.S. State Department Travel site has gotten wind of this, and is warning American tourists about the Israeli driver, as well as some other things, not all of which I agree with.  Here's an excerpt.  Read the whole article here.

Aggressive driving is a serious problem in Israel, and many Israeli drivers do not obey traffic laws – they don't keep a save driving distance and don't signal before changing lanes or turning.

This is what the US State Department thinks about Israelis and Israeli drivers according to its updated guide on the State of Israel for the American tourist visiting the country.  

The State Department continued: The Israeli driver tends to make sudden stops in the middle of the street without any forewarning, particularly in the right-hand lane. Drivers must exercise significant caution on Israel's roads, especially in light of the high number of traffic accidents that result in injury and the very congested streets, specifically in urban areas. . . 



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