Most sensible people accept that the general standard of driving behavior on Israeli roads is awful. Awfully awful. There is not a single Highway Code rule that is not broken every minute of every day on every main road.
- Lane discipline? What white lines?
- Keeping a safe distance? This way he knows I want to overtake.
- Mirror, signal, maneuver? What’s a signal?
- Never overtake on a bend? There’s never any oncoming traffic here.
- Stop at a stop sign? That’s for novice drivers only.
And on it goes. The ironic aspect is that, according to all feedback, the driving test for new young drivers is a long, involved, and demanding process that teaches all the right stuff. But after passing the test…
It’s with this background that you may not be shocked to know that there are several theories why the driving is so poor. This being a popular topic among immigrants (especially) I have heard many, varied excuses. (Or reasons; it depends on your point of view.) This weekend, I heard one that was new to me.
Apparently the 1948 State of Israel had about 400 cars in the entire country. And so, the theory goes, this is not only a young country, but also a young country of drivers. In other words, there are not enough experienced drivers, and certainly not enough experienced generations of drivers, passing on the right driving skills.
I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t convince me. However, it did spring to mind on the journey home from the office tonight.
It happened like this: I approached a roundabout on a single lane road. The car ahead of me went through the roundabout very slowly. I followed. On the exit from the roundabout, I was still behind this slow car. It stopped. It pulled in. (No; no indicator was harmed in that maneuver.) I passed the car carefully – in case it started up again without warning – noting the little old lady in the driver’s seat. The next thing I see is her starting to move her car. In reverse. She reversed into the roundabout and back the way she had come… OMG, where do they come from? I was glad I was going in the opposite direction.
So your challenge, should you accept it, is to come up with an explanation. Just why is the driving so bad here?