Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Driving In Israel 101

Hi all,
Before I address the issue at hand (or at least the issue in the title), I have to share one thing.  In fact, before i do that, I want to mention that if you go to the blog Ross included a link to our picture and an article about us in the Israeli newspaper Mekor Rishon.  It appeared within the week we got here.  It made us a little famous-- lots of people saying-- hey aren't you the family that was in the paper?! 
now back to tangent #1:
We gave someone from the kibbutz a ride down the mountain.  We were talking about all kinds of things.  Ross was saying how amazing the community is.  He said it is so diverse.  Then he corrected himself and said that considering that everyone is modern orthodox and zionist, it is very diverse.  the guy added "...who are all teachers and social workers."  We all laughed.  Then the guy said that he just read that there is someone on the kibbutz who is a teacher with a masters in social work.  I said that's what I am, and we realized it was from the blurb in the newsletter welcoming us.  Then we all had a big laugh at my expense!  : )
Now then-- scroll op to remind yourself what is the subject of this update....  I'll wait.... 
Our comedian friend Yisrael Campbell laughs about the fact that Israelis have to have 25 driving lessons in order to get their license.  He jokes, "What are they teaching them?!  Lesson 17-- driving on the sidewalk...."
So when you make aliyah, you can drive with your foreign license for a time, but you need to get an israeli license (within a year?)  Besides that, if you want to buy a new car, you need an israeli license.  So Ross has begun the process (I have begun too, but I haven't done the go to Haifa part yet.  Or the doctor's exam for that matter.  In fact, I have just gone for the eye exam).  Anyway, to get an Israeli license, you need to go for at least one driving lesson.  The best part-- at the end of your lesson, the guy who you are paying for the lesson determines whether or not you need to come back again and hire him for more lessons.  It's just awesome how they get away with that! 
So Ross went for his lesson (I was with him).  The teacher kept going on and on about what a great driver he was.  But he has to learn to signal left every time he is jutting over into the next lane because of parked cars, and if he passes a garbage truck, he has to look in his side mirror to see if the garbage truck came at that moment and is trying to pass him.   And when turning onto the ONLY one-way street in beit Shean he needs to turn onto the left side of the road and not the right side to show he knows it is a one-way street.  When he looks to the left, he has to move his head with his eyes to demostrate to the teacher that he is in fact looking left, even if this takes his entire line of vision off the road.  And he has to look in the rearview mirror every time he breaks so he can watch the guy behind him smash into him.  And he will need at least 2 more lessons to brush up on these rules.  Oh, and I forgot to mention what the teacher calls "the circle of tears."  It is a "circle," except it has a couple of yield signs IN THE CIRCLE to give the right of way to oncoming traffic!  It is the most dangerous thing since they started letting cars into the old city!
Anyway, there's more to tell, but I'm tired, so I'll end there for now, sticking (sort of) to the topic.  I feel like there's a lot more, but tomorrow is another day (at least for another half an hour....)


  1. My lesson reminded me of practicing for the SATs. My instructor was telling me how to pass the driving test, not how to drive in Israel! He never once said that there is no right turn on red. He never explained about the red & white stripes, blue & white stripes, and red & yellow stripes on the curb (still not sure about the red & yellow ones). He never said what happens at a 4-way intersection, who has the right of way? Was just crazy. So, like the SATs, I passed with flying colours, but I'm still not so sure of the content ;)

  2. Alissa -- your description is spot on! One hilarious addendum. In today's lesson, my instructor had me make a left turn from a small street onto a "highway" (hear in the booneys highways have basically one lane for each direction). Anyway... where I was turning, there happened to be a small patch of the highway with an extra lane for passing. Up until now, my instructor has insisted that I stay as far to the right as possible. Here I took the left turn wide to end up in the right hand lane. No one was coming from either direction. He has me stop the car literally in the middle of the road to lecture me that I should have turned into the left hand lane because its dangerous to turn into the right hand lane. Maybe there could have been a bicycle in the right hand lane that I didnt notice. Now I not sure that technically he's right but lets give him the benefit of the doubt and say its better to turn into the left hand lane rather than the right. OK maybe ...but the whole time I was asking myself could it be anywhere near as dangerous as it is to be stopped in the middle of an 80k/hour road?!?!?!