Israeli Drivers Spared Refresher Course Every 5 Years

The Transportation Ministry is dumping a plan to require all drivers to take a refresher course every five years.

The plan arose in 2004 and won the approval of the Knesset Economics Committee and cabinet at the time. The test would include driving on a slippery road, emergency braking and avoiding obstacles.

Discovering that the plan had been shelved, MK Israel Hasson asked Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who confirmed as much. Experience elsewhere in the world has shown that these refresher courses on special training lots have little effect, Katz explained.

Hasson was appalled. "This is Chelm," he said: Clerks have stepped into the vacuum created by the ministers. The government and Economics Committee made decisions that are being overturned even though "the issue had been looked into" and the conclusion reached that training was a good way to fight traffic accidents, Hasson said.

Evidently Katz does not agree. In any case, over the years various entrepreneurs have sought permits to open training lots in keeping with the plan, but no appropriate sites have been found because of the shortage of land for development in central and southern Israel, says Uzi Yitzhaki, head of the traffic department at the Transportation Ministry.

In short, said Yitzhaki in a letter to Katz, a number of reasons existed to shelve the plan. "It would be irresponsible and even constitute a lack of transparency toward entrepreneurs to allow them to amuse themselves with all sorts of weird fantasies about real estate gems that would arise around their [training] lots," he wrote.

Moreover, argues Yitzhaki, the plan exposed Israel to lawsuits: The only place that actually instituted training for drivers is Luxembourg.