Home > Uncategorized > Driving in Israel Part 2: Merging With Traffic

Driving in Israel Part 2: Merging With Traffic


When it comes to merging in Israeli traffic, the bottom line is that anyone can and will merge if they think they can pull it off.  It basically amounts to a game of chicken and a battle of wills.

The first time it happens to you feels something like this:

I’m merging.
No you aren’t.. are you crazy?
I’m merging.
No you aren’t.
Yes I am.
No you aren’t.
Yes I am.
Fine, just don’t hit my car!

Because this behavior is normal and expected, Israeli drivers are very confused if you decide to be nice and let them in. They never take the opening, because they don’t expect other drivers to just let them in. They think they have to take it from you. It’s like they think it’s a trap and they just don’t know how to respond.

Once you get used to this kind of behavior you’ll periodically astonish yourself with how much nerve you’ve developed. I was in a traffic jam that looks a lot like this picture I stole from the internet. It took me two hours to get home from the grocery that night. (It normally takes 10 min.)  I realized at one point that I was mere inches from the car in front of me as I was forcing myself through the intersection, the light had turned, and the oncoming traffic was closing in on me in much the same way. “Wow,” I thought, “I’m becoming one of them.”

There are always a couple of fools on the highway who literally drive like they are on a racetrack. These guys are Level 6 Douchebags who view “shooting the gap” as some kind of extreme sport. They scare the crap out of the most seasoned Israeli drivers and would probably cause a lot of accidents if people didn’t already expect crazy merging behavior.

At this point I’m a bit worried about making the transition to driving back in the States. I’ve picked up some pretty nasty habits as a means of survival and I’m afraid I’m going to forget where I am one day. Let’s just hope there are no cops around.

Next time: Parking in Israel

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  1. Chris Schardein
    December 25, 2011 at 12:43

    Did you notice Mr & Mrs Santa Claus sitting on top of the building watching the traffic! Was that here in the states?

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