Those who have been around here for a while, will agree when I say: Israeli are bad drivers.
I know, I know: I am Italian. Italian are famous for being wild at the wheel: fast, competitive, passionate, obsessive, skillful. But Israeli? hmm…. sorry, just bad.
One can easily notice that 80% of cars around show some sort of visible bump on the body. Brand new cars do not last intact for long. Mine lasted about three weeks, after which it got seriously damaged by some gentleman maneuvering in a parking lot (no, he/she did not let insurance details to straighten it out). I am not reporting only about unskillful drivers, but also lack of etiquette. This is not Switzerland. No one care about street signs, pedestrian crosses, giving way, signaling a turn.
I think most of the accidents actually happens as a result of careless driving. My impression is that drivers in Israel behave as if they were alone in the street, with little or no consideration to what is happening around them. Even those who are supposed to be professional drivers, that is people paid for driving (thinking of truck delivery drivers, pizza carriers and, especially, taxi drivers) seem to be totally illiterate when it come to road safety.
Since the establishment of Israel some 60 years ago, 29,585 people have died in road accidents. As a reference, this number is greater than the number of Israeli war-related casualties since 1860 (accounting for 22,305 people in 2007, the Foreign Affair Ministry of Israel says). A few weeks ago, a bunch of wrecked vehicles were on display in Rabin Square, in the heart of Tel Aviv, to commemorate road accidents deaths. The victims include car drivers, passengers, motorcycle riders, but most of all pedestrian. The Haaretz reports in an article today that:
“The percentage of pedestrians among all those killed in traffic accidents in Israel is significantly higher than in most industrialized countries, a study recently carried out by the Or Yarok (Green Light) road safety association shows.
According to the findings, Israel is in third place in the world in the percentage of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents.”
Third place in the world! Here is a record you don’t want to be proud of.
The risk for pedestrian increases in urban areas, where density of traffic and number of crossings are at their most. Carelessness in drivers is reflected by carelessness in pedestrians, who apparently cross where they are not supposed to, when they are not supposed to, and not even bothering to give the proverbial look to the left before doing so. How have we come to this level of inattentiveness? Are people too busy to pay attention to their life?
In Europe, many accidents are blamed on young and intoxicated drivers (the infamous “Saturday night deaths”, taking place after a long, alcoholic evening out). In Israel, alcohol is way less popular. Yet the number of deaths at the wheel exceeds that of Western countries, despite a lower number of drivers at risk in this category.
Drivers training has been adjusted to the European standards, after a decision of the Israel Government in 2001. The procedure for receiving a license includes the usual: medical check, practical test, period of accompanied driving. In Israel a new driver is obliged to exhibit the sign for 2 years.
So if drivers are correctly educated and generally not under influence of alcohol and drugs, what makes Israel rate so badly in road safety? I am afraid the key element contributing to street accidents is really carelessness. If you have a closer look at the findings, you’ll see that accidents resulting in general damage are on a constant raise, as if people really did not pay attention to their car. We buy more and more vehicles, and more and more expensive ones, but we are less careful with them.
It goes without saying that a tired and distracted driver is a dangerous one. Drivers more likely to be tired when driving and possibly distracted, are people who work a lot. Worldwide, insurance companies reveal that the poorer drivers in occupational categories are computer engineers, sales managers, chefs and doctors – all professions requiring long working hours and stressful environment. To find out if you are a distracted driver, you can take a test at the Israeli Road Safety website.
Ah! and… don’t blame it on the ladies. A study of the road accidents (R.A. files) received from the Israel Police Force in 2002 shows that 78% of the drivers involved in road accidents were men and only 22% were women.
Man or woman, young or experienced drivers, bikers, pedestrian at cross ways: watch out! There may be something way more dangerous in Israel than terrorism: the next car coming your way.