Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Israel?
Driving is on the right with overtaking on the left. Most of the rules are the same as you would expect in Western Europe. Despite being common in other countries, turning right or left at a red light is illegal.
Remember that nothing happens in Israel from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown which is the Sabbath, so it is a good idea to have a car if you want to get around. Normally roads which go south-north have even numbers and roads which go west-east have odd numbers. Israel has a bad record for traffic accidents and so you are advised to drive cautiously, especially on the desert roads where there is no barrier between oncoming lanes.
Beware of Bad Driving in Israel..
Seat Belt Laws
You must wear a seatbelt at all times when your car is underway in Israel. You will be fined if caught disobeying the law.
Drinking and Driving
The drinking and driving limit is 24mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. Penalties don't start until 26mg because of lawsuits. The limit is around a third of that in the UK so even one drink will put you over the limit. We recommend that you don't drink and drive in Israel, particularly in the light of the abysmal driving standards of other motorists.
Must Have Documents
You only need to have your domestic licence with you, both parts. It is useful to carry proof of ownership of the vehicle, the insurance certificate and proof of identity in the light of Israel's tight security situation.
50 kilometres per hour in built up areas
80 kilometres per hour on outer city roads which do not have a lane barrier
90 kilometres per hour on outer city roads which do have a lane barrier
110 kilometres per hour on some parts of toll highway 6
Minimum Driving Age
Drivers must be at least 17 years old if driving their own car. To rent a car you must be over 21 years of age, though some companies only rent to people who are over 23. In all cases you are likely to be charged an excess for being a young driver
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Safety camera warning devices are not illegal in Israel but the cameras are there to save lives, not for you to slow down only when approaching them.
On the Spot Fines
There is no collection of on the spot fines by the police and if you are asked, you should request the right to pay it at a police station or bank. Instead, tickets are issued for minor offences and you have a set period of time in which to pay.
Child Safety Rules
Children under four cannot travel without an appropriate travel seat and restraint system. Older children can sit in the front or rear of a vehicle as long as they have age and height appropriate seats and restraints.
You must have a minimum of third party insurance cover to drive in Israel. All our hire cars have comprehensive insurance.
Rules of the Road
Driving in Israel is much like driving in Europe but there are a few rules which vary:
- Between November and March you must use dipped headlights at all times - even during the day!
- You must carry a yellow reflective vest which you need to wear if you get out of your car for any reason on the extra-urban roads.
There are no specific regulations for towing another vehicle in Israel. Just try to make sure other drivers know what you are doing.
Speed cameras are becoming more prevalent on highways in Israel and the police regularly use mobile speed traps. The fixed cameras will issue a ticket to the address the car is registered at and car hire companies will pass on the cost to you. Mobile units will issue you with a ticket immediately if you are pulled over.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
You cannot use a mobile phone without a hands-free kit whilst driving. A fine applies if you are caught doing so.
Parking in Israel is easy to negotiate as long as you can remember your colour combinations. You'll also find dusty outdoor lots managed by a person in a hut or, in the cities, multi-storey, CCTV protected car parks.
For safety, use a multi-storey park but if using street parking, blue and white lines mean that your car needs a ticket from a nearby machine. Grey lines means that it is free to park there.
Red and yellow lines mean that only public transport can stop there. Red and white lines mean that no-one can stop there.
There are no provisions for holders of the European Blue Badge scheme but if you explain your requirements to an attendant, they'll usually do their best to help.
Motor Way Signs
Motorway signs are in blue with white writing in English as well as Hebrew. There are four main motorways in Israel.
All road signs are in English as well as Hebrew. Almost all Israelis speak good English so you should never struggle to get yourself understood.
Traffic lights in Israel follow the standard of the Vienna Convention so should be familiar to all. You are not allowed to turn left or right on a red light unless arrows indicate otherwise.
There is only one - Toll Highway 6. It is electronically operated with no toll booths. Licence plates are scanned electronically and bills sent to your address, depending on how far you have driven. Consult your rental company about the process.
Highway 6 Toll Road Sign
The Police Service number is 100, the Fire Service number is 102 and the Ambulance Service number is 101. You can also call 112 for emergencies.
The American Embassy is at 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv. The embassy website is http://usembassy-israel.org.il/index.aspx.
What to do in an emergency
Do not move your car (unless it is in a dangerous position which might lead to another accident) and wait for the police to arrive. In the meantime swap insurance information and addresses with the other driver. If you have a camera handy take pictures of the accident for police and insurance purposes.
If you suffer car trouble, call the number given to you by the hire car company or use the Israeli partner of your home country roadside assistance company.
As of June 2014, the price of 95 octane unleaded fuel is £1.32 with diesel a couple of pence dearer.