I am finally a licenced meshuggah Israeli Driver. After, ahem, having to do my driver’s licence a second time, I have been
given the green light to terrorise fellow motorists. I feel like an 18 year old again! Some of you are familiar with the first post I wrote about the
challenges that Olim face and if you aren’t, here is a link to the original post:
I have been driving for (insert mumble here) amount of years so imagine how mortified I felt when I didn’t pass the first time. Short of flinging myself prostate at the feet of my examiner or dancing the dying swan scene from Swan lake and begging for a change of mind, I sheepishly agreed to just do it again. This meant MORE driving lessons. Good for the understanding of Israeli driver expectations, bad for the ego!
Learning to drive in Israel, especially when you come from a country where you drive on the opposite side of the road is almost like going through a baptism of fire. The rules of the road are like Fight Club. In other words, there don’t appear to be any rules. It is every man or woman for themselves. However, there are quite strict laws in place which seem to be forgotten as motorists clock up their milage. I feel it is important to share my ordeal with Olim chadeshim (new immigrants).
After negotiating the very temperamental Israeli traffic, I have come to the conclusion that driving in Israel is a contact sport. There is hardly a car on the road that does not sport racing stripes. In other words, those scrapes that come from grinding up seductively alongside another car. These are often worn as badges of honour.
I come from a country where you are what you drive and sporting the latest mobile accessory normally involves some kind of complicated technical device and not a good look at the colour of your automobile before it was sprayed at the factory.
Parking requires a little bump and grid action. Simply sidle up to your chosen bay and shuffle your car backwards and forwards and from side to side until you can fit comfortably. If you are parallel parking, feel free to hump the pavement with one of your rear wheels. We know that in Israel, parking space is at a premium so any space will do.
All joking aside, here are some pointers for those who are learning to drive for the first time or as new immigrants:
What I have learned from my motoring escapades:
1) It is seems to be quite acceptable to drive like a frustrated Formula 1 driver. Yes, get behind the wheel of a car and you can also drive like Lewis Hamilton on a hot lap.
2) Indicators are optional extras and can be regarded as fancy steering wheel accessories. When intending to switch lanes, simply fling your car into the lane alongside you and look offended by shocked reactions from fellow motorist.
3) When you start your car, immediately begin to hoot (or honk if you come from the other side of the Atlantic ocean).
Should someone not drive withing a nanosecond of a robot or traffic light turning green, you are there to politely remind them to beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep yalla! Zuz!
4) Yes, you CAN! You can squeeze a Sherman Tank sized car into a space reserved for a bicycle. If in doubt, I refer you to my earlier comment on racing stripes. A little bump and grind action to move the cars on either side of you will ensure that you can slide in comfortably.
5) Don’t practice your hebrew skills while showing off your driving skills. While you must know your yamina (right) from your smolla(left),save the hebrew for later.
6) Don’t be scared when taking your test – driving examiners, like rottweilers, can smell your fear. Don’t be over confident either, we experienced drivers pick up bad driving habits. I will not mention those ladies who I have seen applying mascara while turning onto the freeway…erm, no, it wasn’t me!
Above all, enjoy the driving experience. While the freeways in Israel more often than not resemble huge parking lots and traffic can drive you mad, the roads are good and the country is beautiful.
Drivers, start your engines!