Aside for more aggressive driving generally (but manageable), some key differences:
• No right turn on red.
• Left turn on arrow only.
• No using cell phones while driving.
• Yellow lights come before BOTH red lights and green lights. In the latter case, it is to give the Israeli driver behind you warning to start honking. :-)
• For parking, red and white markings indicate no parking. Blue and white indicate parking only with a permit or purchased time (using coupon machines on the street). No markings mean parking permitted, of course the rarest of all.
Can an Israeli explain the lane markings because she still befuddle me?
Have a great trip!
NOt driving but if you buy gas in the evening ( I think it is after 9PM) there is a surcharge. ( and gas is expensive enough) This surcharge does NOT show up on the pump. I don't drive on Saturday but I would imagine the surcharge is in place there too.
Be aware that many municipalities, agressively tow. They have this tow truck that pulls up next to your parallel parked vehicle, sticks out two metal lifts and lifts the vehicle right out of the spot. Moral: Pay attention to what Doug said about parking.
There are also areas where parking is for residents only. It is written in Hebrew. So, if you see lots of hebrew signs and you can't read them--ask for help.
Notwithstanding the street parking issues, there are parking lots in the cities (for a fee), many hotels offer free parking to their guests, most major attractions have parking lots adjacent.
The roads are generally excellent throughout Israel with well marked signage in Hebrew, English and Arabic, though signs in the Golan Heights area were not as plentiful or helpful when I last drove there (perhaps that has improved in the past two years).
Gas stations are plentiful--the Hebrew words for gas are "pahz" and "benzene"--though most Israelis speak at least a little English, I got nowhere asking for gasoline or even the British-used "petrol" when trying to find out where the next gas station in the Negev could be found (and this was at a gas station!).
I definitely also recommend detouring from the main highways occasionally to drive on local roads and through towns & villages & along kibbutzim for a more scenic experience.
We had some great food at a gas station next to the overlook for the Machtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater) in the Negev!
Sorry, I meant "Delek" not "pahz" for gasoline. "Paz" is actually a brand of gas in Israel (as is "Delek").
In addition to the helpful tips you have already received, the following IS allowable as I have seen it before my very eyes (NOTE: this is meant to be lighthearted. I do not expect anyone to put me to task for saying these things are allowable)
When approaching a bad accident on a two lane highway and the route is delayed, it is permissible to make your own route through the adjacent forest. Yes I have see this.
When driving a scooter or motorcycle, it is permissible to drive on the wrong side of the street. You'll see this often
When coming upon someone speeding 30KM/hr over the speed limit it is allowable to get as close as possible behind their bumper flashing your lights and honking wildly hoping they move over. This is more common as Shabbat approaches.
It is not allowable to have a car that is in perfect condition. It must have missing hubcaps, dents, and a horn that sounds like an old clarinet.
You'll be just fine driving. Have a wonderful time!
Dr. Z, you're post brought back a delightful -- if rather wild -- memory.
On one of my trips in the 1990s with Brett, we had gone to a beach near Netanya for the day, from Jerusalem, and were returning to Jerusalem that evening. (Brett had to break up my "week of history in Jerusalem" with a beach day.) We were headed south on Route 2, toward Highway 1. Because of a security threat in Tel Aviv, which we had heard about on the radio, all of a sudden the traffic going south came at a dead stop near Herzliya. Apparently the back-up went all the way to Tel Aviv.
Suddenly, many of the cars ahead of us started to back up, in bumper to bumper traffic. Brett started to freak, and so did I -- honking the horn to warn people, "Hey, I'm here!" Then we noticed a dozen or so cars exiting the highway to the right, driving up what looked like some kind of gravel cut-off. Living by the philosophy, "when in Rome,..." I started to head that way. Brett yelled, "Where are you going?," and I replied, "I'm following them. They live here; they know what they are doing. And I have to get the hell out of here." In part I wanted to get my car out of the bumper-car target zone as several cars were still backing up in all directions. In part, I just got caught up in the Israeliness of it all.
So I joined the line of cars for the adventure (I was something like # 9 or 10). We headed up a hillock and then -- to my total amazement and surprise -- found the we were literally driving across the back of someone's yard. I am not making this up. I was horrified but by then had committed; there were car in front and in back of me in a long chain. Soon, we dumped with a THUNK back onto a suburban street, and careened through what were clearly the back streets of a suburban neighborhood. I felt like I was in a Mad Max chase scene. But someone we ended up on a westbound street that took us to Route 4, where the southbound route to Highway 1 was open.
So those I was following DID know what they were doing, but drove very much in the spirit of Dr. Z's post. At first Brett kept looking at me like I was mad, but when we got on Route 4 safely, we both just broke into gales of laughter.
But I do wonder what those poor people thought when looking out their back window....
'Doug--what you did sounds about right. I have driven up and out not yet opened entrances to avoid traffic. I find myself doing all sorts of things I would never do in the states! Just remember as you go off roading--damage to the bottom of a rental vehicle ( or its' tires) is YOUR responsibility!! It is not covered by any insurance. --and it doesn't take a wide stretch of the imagination to understand why.
Your story made me laugh, something I dearly needed to do today!
Here I've been defending the safety and courtesy of Israeli drivers, and now, Doug, you have added "ingenuity."
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