Driver Wins Thousands After Appealing 11 Shekel Fee in Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Fast Lane

Driver who thought he was ripped off by traffic sign managed by operators of express toll lane between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv didn't give up.

Tomer Appelbaum

What would you have done if you had paid to drive on the toll express lane because signs warned of heavy traffic, only to discover there was no traffic in the free lanes? Most drivers would probably bang their steering wheel or utter a few choice words and forget about it, but not Guy Kedem.

Kedem drove in the fast lane on Route 1 from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv last year and paid the 11 shekel ($3.20) toll, since the electronic signs on the road reported heavy traffic ahead. But once he got in the express lane, he says, he saw there was barely any traffic.

His appeal is costing Hanativ Hamahir, the company that runs the toll lane, 15,000 shekels in court costs and expenses, in addition to the 11 shekels Kedem originally paid.

Kedem, a lawyer, filed an appeal with the appeals committee for Hanativ Hamahir (which means "Fast Lane"). His appeal was accepted in June, at which point the company was ordered to return his 11 shekels, plus 300 shekels in expenses.

The more the company fought, the more its costs rose.

Hanativ Hamahir asked the Tel Aviv District Court for the right to appeal the decision, arguing that the automatic equipment that provides the information for the electronic signs was approved by the proper government authorities and it had no discretion in the matter. The company also said Kedem did not present any evidence that the road was not congested, and that the appeals committee acted improperly by placing the burden of proof on Hanativ Hamahir.

Kedem said he was unable to prove what traffic conditions were like because that information was in the company's hands.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Judith Shitzer ruled this month that the court would not allow Hanativ Hamahir to appeal. Once Kedem had filed his complaint, she said, the company should have required him to sign an affidavit or otherwise produce proof. Since the company did not do so, the burden of proof remained on the company.

Shitzer upped the court costs and expenses the fast lane operator must pay to 15,000 shekels. Since the company’s representative said it was possible to intervene manually and change what appeared on the electronic signs, Shitzer ruled, Hanativ Hamahir had the burden of proving there was no such intervention in this case.