Mediterranean Monday: Driving in Tel Aviv

trafficIsraeli’s drive like they live: extremely aggressive!  This might sound a bit harsh, but its not.  They are just more on the offensive than the defensive.  I assume if you were a psychologist, you could attribute this back to their history and what they’ve been through, etc. but I’m just gonna keep it simple.

I had some practice with this type of driving while living in Rio.  I finally had a car my last 2 years there, and driving was such an experience.  You have to learn to become an offensive driver versus a defensive driver (which I personally believe most American drivers are taught to be.) Anyways, I found driving in Rio thrilling, and I loved it.  People say that all Carioca’s (people who live in Rio) drive like they are on the racetrack, and maybe thats true.  I don’t know.  But I know this:  Drivers in Rio are mild compared to drivers here!  They both feel the need for speed, but the main difference is that drivers in Rio are nice. Drivers here are not!

On any given day, you will hear horns ALL day long, and not for pleasant reasons.  I remember in Rio, 2 short beeps of a horn meant go ahead.  There are definitely NO 2 short beeps here.  I have yet to even see a car give another car the right away….that just doesn’t happen.  It’s an eat or be eaten type of mentality. 

Lest you think this is just for cars, let me reassure you its not.  The buses, taxis, and sherut’s follow the same rules of behavior on the roads.  Let me give you an example:  Last week I got a bus in the morning, on my way to the shelter.  It was pretty early, so there wasn’t too much action on the road.  At one of the stops a man got on and told the driver he just needed to go to the next stop.  Well, the next stop came, but the guy didn’t get off.  When the bus driver finally realized the guy was still on the bus after 2 stops, he started yelling at him.  They both exchanged words (sorry, I don’t know what they were to give you more detail…but you can only imagine).  The bus driver got so mad, he stopped the bus right in the middle of the road, turned it off completely, and demanded that the guy get off the bus.  Other cars were honking at him, disturbed at the bus stopped in the middle of the road, blocking all traffic.  Finally, the guy got off the bus after like a couple of minutes. Akward!

So, after all that, will I drive here?  I’d love to!  The problem is not the driving, but the money to afford a vehicle.  For now though, I’m satisfied with walking. 🙂


About Maureen Hochdorf

Writer. Editor. High Techi. Non-Profit Founder. Traveler. Sports Lover. Star Wars Fanatic. Tel Aviver. Michigander.... View all posts by Maureen Hochdorf

4 responses to “Mediterranean Monday: Driving in Tel Aviv

  • KSA

    Tell me about crazy driving and honking horns. It sounds a lot like my life here in central Asia. In fact last week I was in a bus accident. We went plowing into the side of another bus, but because both buses could still move, they just kept on driving. Mind you my body ached for the next three days after having the big guy standing behind me going slamming into me. You are a brave girl to even think about trying to drive overseas.

  • Rebecca

    That is an awesome story, I can totally picture.

    I’m sure you will drive one day in Tel Aviv! 🙂

  • Mom

    Ok, this is the 3rd time I’ve written this comment because I forget or don’t put the name and mail in here correctly. Only for my daughter would I try again! (see how loved you are!!)
    I just don’t think of Israel as having traffic like that. Funny how we get certain pictures in our mind. Not that I see camels and donkeys or everyone walking on dusty roads but hard to picture all those cars. I guess we’ll just have to make that trip to the Holy Land to see for myself!
    Worse that Rio?? Can’t wait!!!

  • annie

    Sounds exciting! (I’m sure not too pleasant at times as well). I am definitely an offensive driver by nature (although not mean) … so I think I’d fit in pretty well. We were driven around by buses and occasionally taxis when we were there … I remember the taxis being aggressive, but then … it was a taxi. So I didn’t think that was indicative of all Israel. I guess so!

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