Road Safety

Of all of the dangers of living in Israel, the one that claims the most lives is road accidents. Consistently, more people are killed in road accidents than in terrorist bombings and even in the recent war. It’s not hard to understand why there are so many fatal accidents. All you need to do is to drive a couple of kilometers to see people speeding, following dangerously closely, passing in such a way as to threaten to clip the front of the second car’s fender on the way back, flashing lights, honking horns, urging those in front of them to speed, or to cross intersections where people are walking.

I call drivers who do this “It’s my right” drivers. It means that whatever I want to do is OK. If I want to terrorize someone’s grandmother by flashing my highbeams in her rearview mirror and by attempting to transit her car by driving through it, then I just do it. It’s OK. I deserve to have things the way I want them.

Then there is the even more frightening driver. I call this kind of driver the “grudge” driver. He (and usually it is a he) works out his need for power on the road. So if someone passes him, he must catch up with that person and pass him, because after all, it’s important to be the first and the fastest. Sometimes the grudge driver will actually engage in totally self-defeating behavior such as getting in front of a slower moving car and slowing down to 30 or 40 kilometers an hour (18-24 mph) to “teach” the slower driver “a lesson.” Of course that means that the grudge driver actually takes longer to get where he’s going, but at least he has the satisfaction of annoying someone else.

None of this is funny. Every day our most frightening, unpredictable battlefield is the road we drive on and our worst enemy are drivers who feel entitled and competitive. These issues need to be worked out in other settings. These people need to play sports or chess or wield their power in other ways. But please, fellow drivers, be careful out there. We have real enemies. We’re on the same side!

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