Get One Car Ahead

The car on the right in the picture above is not signaling-- don't worry. It's breaking as it figures out how to cut in front of the pickup flying the giant Israeli flag.

If you are an Israeli driver, remember: it is crucially important that you get One Car Ahead. You must reach the light before the car in front of you so that, as you both sit waiting for the same light to turn green, you can feel smug knowing that you are One Car Ahead. If you reach a roundabout, it is crucially important that you cut off the person about to enter it by entering first. If a lane is about to end (usually around a bend and without warning-- this is Israel, after all, and little things like advance notice of lanes ending are for goyim), it is crucial that you get IN FRONT of the car in the other lane rather than behind it.

There are two reasons why getting One Car Ahead is so crucial:

1. You are always in a hurry.
2. You are always late.

This actually mystified the Argentinians in my ulpan class; they came from a culture of manana, but Argentinians are late when they go places because they aren't in a hurry. Israelis are late when they go places because they are. If an Israeli just spends a little more time getting things done (and organizing combinot) before leaving home, he will surely get rich. Every Israeli, remember, is an expert on just about everything, which makes their time more valuable than yours.

Getting One Car Ahead is also closely related to the principle that every other driver on the road is an idiot. If another driver weaves in and out of traffic without using his turn signal, he is clearly an idiot because he is obviously not paying attention. You, on the other hand, don't need to signal because the other drivers are obviously not paying attention and therefore wouldn't notice if you did. Also, every other driver on the road is an idiot, so if they're all driving slowly, it's because they can't drive... not because, say, cows are wandering into Rt. 4 during the middle of rush hour. (We actually saw this happen. They were happily grazing on the median strip by the Lev HaMifratz mall.)

The other day I saw a car full of chassidic men, long payot and all, swerve between cars along the Derech Akko-Haifa. My theory is that they were on the way to a wedding in Nahariya, because they rolled down their window to ask me for directions before careening off.



  1. This explains a lot about your husband's driving!

  2. haha... the funny thing is that I am now possibly a more "Israeli" driver than he is... he got it out of his system young :)

  3. For the record, I drive very calmly nowadays (and Maya would testify to that) especially now that I ride a scooter.

    There's another reason for not signaling, which dates back to the army time that most Israelies serve: If you signal, then other drivers would know what you are about to do, and they might try to cut YOU off instead, and then THEY will be One car Ahead. It's better to keep the enemy in the dark about your plans, and move in the last second with a surprise attack.

  4. ooooh!!! And you two tried to get Daddy and me to rent an Israeli car last year??? Never :-).

    loved this post :-).
    Ima in America

  5. Note to my mother: please ignore all posts about Israeli driving. It's safe, really! :)

  6. Oh My God! This is so true. I was wandering if I was alone. I am simply flabbergasted by the Israeli lack of street etiquette. Not one driving day goes by without me yelling "who the hell gave you a driving license???" to the car that cut me off, stopped in the middle of the way because had a very Important Phone Call to make, etc. etc.

  7. Israel has roundabouts? That's nice to know :D


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