Road Safety and Advanced Driving in Israel

Advanced Driving across Asia
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Road Safety and Advanced Driving in Israel

Postby Astraist » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:22 am

Seem like the appropriate place to describe where I come from. It is continentally in Asia, although it is not what one might call as "Asian" state. The description that follows is about the State of Israel (which has Jewish and Arab citizens) but not for the Palestinian National Authority and certainly not Gaza. These two fare much less well in the ways of road safety and advanced driving coaching.

Israel's Road Safety leaves much to be desired. While it's main roads are built to be quite safe even in European terms, the weather is favorable most of the time, the car fleet isn't older than in most western standards, and It is roads are far less deadly than many of the region's countries (namely Saudi Arabia, Lebanon) and even Italy, it is still taking a much higher toll in deaths and injuries than terrorism and war related events, and because these lend most of the state budget and people awareness to defense, it leaves road safety a "silent" killer, as it were.

It's also a country with a somewhat violent driving culture (Think Italy, Greece) because it is a small and densly Urban country so there are 2-3 times more cars on each bit of road compared to other western countries.

There is also little Motorsport. The general public and indeed the establishment, sees it as akin to playing around with cars and street racing and more or less bans it. We are the only country I know of to have a law to allow the existance of Motorsport events, which puts so much beurocracy on holding any such event that it actually undermines Motorsport.

We also have no race tracks. Well we had one or two small circuits meant for go-karts which were marginally large enough to be used by car, but they were closed down. We usually go to spirited drives in the winding roads of more mountainous regions like Jerusalem or the road unto the Golan Heights featured in Top Gear. Off road driver development in done in rented parking lots which are vacant on the weekend and on disused air fields.

Advanced Driving in Israel
Israel hasn't got an Advanced Driving program per se, in that there is no overseeing body and no advanced driving test. What we do have are severel very good (in international terms) advanced driving schools and driving coaches.

We used to have two big schools, Alternativi (which I hail from) and Maslulim (literally means Circuits). Alternativi was established by Itay Alon, a road safety activist with a racing resume abroad and a certified Psychologist, and is by far the biggest of the two, coaching over 80,000 people per year.

Maslulim was established by the very succesfull road rally racing driver (and the first diabetic racing driver) Re'em Samuel. It focused more on motorsport (often taking it's clients abroad to do so) and even on road driving focused more on car control and also did so in Rem's unique driving style, which is less smooth.

It recently got effectivelly closed after being taken over by corporate buisnessment who converted it into a company that uses performance cars, in Israel and mainly abroad, to give the client an experience rather than coaching them. Re'm became more or less a private driving coach.

There are a couple of other smaller firms but the rest of the market is made of of private coaches which are usually some of the coaches that stood out in the big companies and than went solo, chieft amongst them are the very good racing drivers Lior Levi and On Jackobson. Private coaches like these often maintain some cooperation with the bigger firms.

As you can see, Advanced Driving in Israel is based around people which have a background in racing abroad and except for the very talented ones, still have to do something else besides coaching, usually related to the automotive world like being car journalists, etc. It therefore also includes coaching to spirited road driving and proper race driving, including coaching new racing drivers abroad through the racing season.

What this does mean for the average Advanced Driving tuition is that they are a bit more focused on car control than their UK counterpart. A typical day goes through an explaination (much simplified) of automotive dynamics, and than goes on to tyre pressure and tyre maintainence (in relation to grip, obviously) and through seating position, with mirror alignment and hand positions and even steering technique, than we usually do emergency braking and avoidance braking, and depending on the resources of the coach we might do skid control (Alternativi represents the SkidCar corporation) and than it moves on to either spirited road driving (vision, steering, lines, balance, etc...) or to defensive road driving.

There is a difference in the driving style, too: Most coaches are keen on trail braking even as a road technique, some (Re'm Samuel and his former clients) are not too smooth into turns, overtaking maneuvers are exeucted differently and no-one has even heard of Pull-Push. Learners learn rotational (and might be failed for Pull-Push!) and advanced driving usually teaches predictive steering.

The coaching style is also different. Israelies are all drafted into the Army at the age of 19 so they become very willing to be told to do something in a certain way, so very few driving coaches actually coach per se, although anything that is learned is explained first so it's also not the kind of instructor that takes the knowledge back with them...

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Re: Road Safety and Advanced Driving in Israel

Postby Playtent » Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:26 pm

Thanks for the insight.

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Re: Road Safety and Advanced Driving in Israel

Postby waremark » Fri Oct 09, 2015 5:46 pm

Very interesting, thanks. It is good to have you here to give us a different view from time to time. What is the significance of your username?

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Re: Road Safety and Advanced Driving in Israel

Postby Astraist » Fri Oct 09, 2015 7:05 pm

Nothing significant. I am very bad at naming things, so I simply used a variant of Astra, one of the first cars I had.

Over time I came to adopt many of the elements of advanced driving in it's British variant, so nowadays the difference isn't very big.

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Re: Road Safety and Advanced Driving in Israel

Postby Revian » Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:35 pm

Bit late to the thread... But thank you.

The only Middle Eastern country I have been in is Syria (where I was driven). There's quite a variety of road types... Though goats being herded against the flow on a fast dual carriageway was a bit unnerving... The long road west to Palmyra was possibly fast but somewhat boring - apart from the stop at the Bahgdad Cafe!

What's the speed limit restriction approach in Isael?


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Re: Road Safety and Advanced Driving in Israel

Postby Astraist » Sun Oct 11, 2015 5:25 am

Speed goes by the metric system.

Towns - 50kph (~30mph). There are relativelly few special speed zones like 30kph (20mph) zones or road speeds higher than 50kph.
Single Carriageway - 80kph (50mph), although typically raised to 90kph (56mph). It's usually 70kph (40mph) on winding B-roads.
Dual carriageway - 90kph (56mph), often extended to 100kph (60mph).
Motorway - 110kph (70mph), with discussions on extending it to 120kph (75mph).

Speed enforcement (nowadays by camera mostly) is almost entirely on dual carriageways and motorways, and is spread across the country but typically enforcement begins after a big margin of 13-15kph, so 8-9mph.

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Re: Road Safety and Advanced Driving in Israel

Postby TheInsanity1234 » Sun Oct 11, 2015 7:38 pm

I think that country Israel cool! (I just wanted to make the pun, don't shoot me!)

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Re: Road Safety and Advanced Driving in Israel

Postby Astraist » Mon Oct 12, 2015 6:09 am

Contrary to what you might believe, Israelis are not too keen on shooting. ;) I gather most of us are trained to use an assault rifle, but very few have any sort of firearms at home.

It really isn't that dangerous a place in everyday life, outside some border regions. Automotive collisions take up more lives by orders over orders of magnitude: over two hundred people per year against well under a hundred last year, in spite of there being a proper war at the time - the first since 2006.

As for weather, there are cool places in mountainous regions like Jerusalem or the Golan heights and over the course of a couple of days almost each winter these places get a bit of snow and ice. The solution for most locals (without suitable tyres) is not to drive during those days.

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Re: Road Safety and Advanced Driving in Israel

Postby Mr Cholmondeley-Warner » Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:54 am

I find it interesting and almost beyond belief that in a country of just over 8 million people, say 4 million drivers, "over 80,000 people a year" are taking some kind of advanced driving coaching. The UK had in 2009 about 36M registered licence holders, and I'd be amazed if there were more than 5,000 taking coaching in any given year. If your figures are true, they're a credit to the Israeli population and their driver training system.

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Re: Road Safety and Advanced Driving in Israel

Postby Astraist » Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:51 am

Actually, last year, Alternativi quoted 100,854 clients, but to be fair some of those only did a short experience of driving around in a sports car with a professional driver for a couple of hours, without much feedback going on.

70 or 80 thousand is more like the number of people that actually did a fruitful course. Most of them aren't private clients, but drivers in fleets of companies that were convinced to use driver coaching to reduce costs, since Alternativi offers refunds in the order of 40% if it fails to reduce the amount of collisions in a company by less than 50% over two years of coaching.

This means that the coaching (which for a given company is about twenty hours annually) isn't one on-one but in ratios as high 1:4, which to me does not seem so bad, and it is on the client's car, other than sessions of a SkidCar or a car that simulates rolling over.

Since the single track that could support this coaching has been shut down, most work is done in big parking lots, either those belonging to the client firm, or hired on the weekend when they are empty. Some work is done on quiet, winding roads.

Overall we are talking some 700,000 clients so far - so it's still not making quite the impact on the roads and the average driving skill and driving culture is very lacking.

Drivers enrolled in coaching by their employer are not the most easy of clients and they don't all maintain what they learned during the sessions over time.

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