Driving in Israel

Planning to travel in Israel with a rental car?
Read this article and get to know the important rules and guidelines about Israel roads & driving.

Disclaimer: The following is provided as a general information only, it obviously does not contain all the driving rules in Israel, and it is merely given here as general guidelines to follow.

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Driving guidelines

The basics

  • Driving in Israel is on the right-hand side of the road (like in the US and unlike in the UK).
    Yes, that means the driver seat is at the left-hand side of the car.
  • Driver must hold a valid driving license, either Israeli or foreign.
  • When driving, keep with you the rental papers of the car, as well as your driving license and passport.

The Israeli temper
Well, you are in the middle east, Israeli drivers do not have the same patience as the Europeans or Americans, nor do they follow all the rules and road signs as they should be.
Driving in Israel may not be an easy thing to do for the first time, but after a day or so you get used to it.
You will hear a lot of car horns, other drivers may not give you the priority (right of way) even when you think that you are entitled to it (at roundabouts, when changing lanes etc). This is the local driving culture, get used to it and you will be just fine.

The unwritten codes

  • When driving a highway, avoid driving on the left lane (the fastest one).
    If you do so, other drivers that want to go faster than you will signal with high lights or a horn, expecting you to change to the right lane allowing them to pass you.
  • When you want to change lanes use the sidelight to signal other drivers, but don’t expect a driver that’s right behind you on the other lane to slow down and let you smoothly change the lane. If this happens, simply wait until he/she passes you and only then change lanes.
  • If the police wants you to stop at the side of the road, they will not only drive close behind you like in the US, they will also let you hear their siren and see their police car blue/red lights. So if a police car is driving behind you and you are on a left lane, simply change to a right lane and keep on driving.

Important rules

  • Don’t drink and drive!
    Even a small amount of alcohol in the blood is prohibited, and the penalties are very high, you don’t want to be arrested during your vacation, right?!
    The max amount of allowed alcohol is 240 micrograms per 1 liter of air (lounges) or 50 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood.
    Young, new and professional drivers limits: 50 micrograms or 10 milligrams respectively.
    You should know that when asked by police, you must comply to an alcohol test (via air or blood). Failing to do so may lead to detention and you may be considered as if you were drinking & driving.
  • Use of cellular phone is prohibited while driving (talk, send text message etc), if you are caught the penalty is 1000 NIS !
    However, you are allowed to use mounted devices with speakers (cellular phone, GPS etc).
  • Seat belts are mandatory to all passengers, always.
  • Kids up to ? years old must be sited in a ?
  • Kids up to ? years old are not allowed at the front sit
  • Driving speed limits
    Simply speaking, follow the signs. Usually the limits are as follows:
    Urban areas: 50 km/h (31 mi/h), may be less near schools and other public areas.
    interurban: 80 km/h (50 mi/h)
    Highways: 90-110 km/h (56-68 mi/h), follow the signs
  • Traffic lights in Israel are red, yellow & greed.
    Red means stop. There are no rules that allow you to turn right on red when the way is free, like in the US.
    Green means you have the right to drive (provided that t here is no traffic).
    However, it is possible that you have a green light while pedestrians also have green light. In this situation you must give way to the pedestrians, a flashing yellow light serves as a warning in such cases.
  • Who has the right way? the driver that comes from the right-hand side
  • A roundabout/traffic circle is passed on the right-hand side, so when you enter one you need to turn to the right.

Accidents

  • In case of an accident you must stop the car, and if possible park it at the side of the road so that it won’t interfere the traffic.
  • You need to exchange your personal details & insurance info with the other driver.
  • If there are casualties, you must report the authorities (police and ambulance service) and wait until police arrives at the scene.

Travel tips

  • When you get your rental car, ask for an explanation about the special driving rules in Israel (usually you get the basic stuff with a free map).
  • Make sure you have an insurance document, get all the details from the car rental company.
  • Make sure you have in the rental car a warning triangle and a reflector vest.

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Toll roads

There are two toll roads in Israel, don’t miss the toll road sign at the entrance to them.

Highway no. 6
Highway 6 is a great new highway that goes from north to south.
The toll is automatically collected using a special device in your car (you will not have it in a rental car) or using cameras installed at the entrances to the highway.
There is no other option to pay the toll, so if you use it, the toll will be collected by the rental company a few months after the actual drive. Our advice is to avoid it because the payment will include a high fee for the rental company as well for processing the payment (via your credit card).

The fast lane
There is a new fast lane (launched mid 2011) parallel to highway no. 1 that leads from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, allowed only for subscribers.
You will probably not notice it, and the signs for this road stand out so you will not enter it by mistake.

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Israel road signs

Languages

There are 3 formal languages in Israel – Hebrew, English and Arabic – thus most of the road signs that have names or warnings on them are written in all 3 languages.
However, the translations of Hebrew names to English is somewhat awkward, and you will not always be able to know the real name of a place as it is written in your map/GPS unless you know a bit of Hebrew.

Road signs

Road signs are pretty much the same all over the world. Here are the basic things to remember:

Square signs
Informative, usually with destination name, distance (in km) and direction arrow.
These are usually green, but can also be blue, brown or white.

Triangular signs
Warning signs, for example, bumpy road ahead, train crossing ahead etc.

Circular signs
Instructional signs, for example, speed limit (in km/h)

Lane directions
When approaching a junction, the directions of each lane is usually drawn on the road, in rare cases there are also green signs with the directions.
When there are no arrow signs above traffic light it means the light it relevant for all directions of the junction.
Arrow signs above the light indicate it is only for driving straight/right/left.

Lane for public transportation
These are marked with a yellow strip and yellow arrows indicate the direction of traffic (instead of the regular white).
There should be a sign above that lane indicating the time of day when it is reserved to public transportation only (buses and taxis).

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Parking in Israel

Parking lots

The easiest way is to find a parking lot.
Prices range from 8 to 20 NIS per hour during the day, and 15-30 NIS for overnight.
Tel Aviv center area is the most expensive.

Parking on the street

When parking on the street, make sure you are doing so within the designated markers, and that you pay for it, if needed.

Is it OK to park here?!
Parking rules are marks in any one or combination of the following manners:

A sign
1. Parking as well as stopping is not allowed
2. Parking is not allowed
Sometimes there will be a another yellow sign with additional days/hours limits (in Hebrew..)

A color mark on the road (sidewalk edge)

  • Grey (no mark at all)
    Parking is allowed
  • Blue & white
    Parking is allowed but a fee must be paid.
    Around city centers and populated areas (mainly in Tel Aviv), make sure that at the beginning of the street there is no sign designating that the parking is allowed only for residents. In this case you may not part even if you buy a parking ticket.
  • Red & white
    Parking is not allowed.
    Regular fine in this case is 250 NIS.
    Parked car may be also towed away (usually around city centers or when the car is interfering to road traffic), and in addition to the fine you will need to pay additional tow fee of around 250 NIS.
  • Red & yellow
    Bus/taxi station area – parking is not allowed (nor stopping), parked car may be towed away (same fines as states above).

Pay for my parking
When parking on the street with a blue & white colors, you need to pay a fee (per hour).
You need to buy a ticket and place it at the side window shield that is near the sidewalk.
Ticket can be bought at kiosks (one-hour tickets), these tickets become pretty rare and not easy to find.
The common way is to get the ticket at an automatic machine spread around the streets (up to 2 or 3 hours per ticket).
Rate at the automatic machines is determined by local municipality, should be around 4 NIS an hour.
Failing to place a ticket may result in a fine of 100 NIS.
Tip: For the blue & white marks, fines are given by the local municipality only at daytime. So between 8PM and 8AM the next day is it usually OK to park without a ticket.

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Israel Gas & stations

Gas types
In Israel there are a few fuel types: 95 unleaded and 98 super unleaded, diesel.

Gas stations
You won’t have any problem finding a gas station, especially in the center of the country or within the cities.

Gas companies in Israel:
Paz (yellow logo), Delek (green), Sonol (red), Dor-Alon (green), Ten (blue)
All are pretty much the same, Ten is a bit cheaper.

Gas Prices
Unfortunately gas price in Israel is very high due to state tax.
One liter of unleaded gas costs about 7.3 NIS (exact price vary according to the global fuel price).
Note: 1 US gallon = 3.78 liters , or 1 liter = 0.26 US gallon

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