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Road Rage

I have just had one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. I am still in a state of shock from it.

In short, I was almost run off the road by a crazed driver.

More than once.

Deliberately.

Here is what happened..

 

I was driving to work, along the number 38 road from Beit Shemesh. About three quarters of the way along the road, I found myself stuck behind a slow-moving truck. Wanting to overtake it, I indicated that I was moving left. I checked my rear-vision mirror and saw a fast-moving van driving to the left of me. It seemed that he had the same idea about overtaking the slow-moving truck. I turned off my signal indicator and allowed him to pass. Only he did not pass the truck. Rather, he pulled in front of me, where there was not much more than two car lengths of space between my car and the truck. Knowing that my chances of averting an accident by slamming on the brakes were slim, I swerved to the right emergency lane and passed the van.

The driver obviously did not like this, because what happened next still sends chills over me.

He put on his brights, moved into the right emergency lane, sped up alongside me, smiled and gave me the finger. He then proceeded to pull in front of me again. This time, I slammed on the brakes, and moved to the left. I narrowly missed crashing into him, while he narrowly missed crashing into the truck in front of him.

I only wish it had ended there.

The crazed van driver then pulled over to the right side of the road, allowed me to pass, pulled back on to the road and trailed me. This continued after I pulled on to the number 1 highway. Whenever I changed lanes, he was right behind me, also changing lanes. He sped up when I sped up, and slowed down when I slowed down. At one point, he actually drove past me in the left lane, waited until I was almost alongside his van, and then pulled in front of me again, causing yet one of my most recent accidents. He then slowed down, allowed me to pass, and trailed me again.

I tried not to get too distracted by the predicament in which I found myself, since I was congniscent of the fact that I had to drive with twice as much concentration as usual. But I will admit that I was fearful, since I had no idea what else this lunatic was capable of doing. He obviously did not care too much about his own life, let alone mine.

Having been trailed now for approximately 20 kilometers, I was approaching a fork in the road. To the left was the entrance to the number 6 highway, a toll highway which I do not normally take to work. To the right was the continuation of the number 1 highway, my normal route to work. I decided that I would take the number 6 since it costs money. I was hoping the driver would take the number 1 for this very reason (my company pays for the priviledge, so I would not be similarly deterred).

As I moved into the left lane, my nemesis once again sped up alongside my car in yet another display of intimidation. However, he remained in his lane as I entered the number 6 highway.

My plan had worked. Except one more scare was to come.

I had remembered the van’s license plate number – 20 770 35 – in case I decided to call the police. After I emerged from the number 5 highway on to the Ayalon, I saw a similar-looking van some distance in front of me. WIth my eyesight not what it used to be, I could only make out the last two numbers of the license plate.

They were 35.

My heart began racing again, but as I got closer to the van, I realized that the other numbers did not match.

This incident has highlighted to me the problem of road rage in this country. Last year, almost 500 people were killed in traffic accidents in Israel. This compares to 213 who were killed in terrorist attacks. I am not sure as to how many of the traffic accidents have been the result of road rage-induced games of chicken, but I have heard of other incidences. Like this and this (this last Jerusalem Post article being written by none other than Allison from An Unsealed Room). Come to think of it, I experienced a similar incident of road rage last year.

I am not sure whether it is because of the daily stress of life here, or a reflection of a misguided Carpe Diem mentality on the part of some Israelis. But I fear that there will be many more road deaths because of this phenomenom.

All of what I have said does not influence my view that Israelis, as a general rule, are very caring people. Perhaps Harry from The View From Here was correct when he once said:

They say Israel is the only place in the world where a person experiencing road rage will run you off the road into the ditch and then get out of their car and give you a blood transfusion.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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