Guggenheim, Noga and Orit Taubman – Ben-Ari. “Women as a Key to Enhancing Road Safety in Ultraorthodox Communities in Israel.” Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour 30 (2015): 22-29.
The ultraorthodox sector in Israel, while an integral part of society, has unique cultural characteristics along with limited media exposure. Both these features impact the perceptions of driving and road safety, as well as the ability to influence them. In view of the scarcity of research literature on these issues, the present study sought to gain further insight into the community in an attempt to find a creative way to leverage road safety among ultraorthodox road users in Israel.
Using the phenomenological qualitative method, 60 face-to-face in-depth interviews were conducted with women and men of different ages and backgrounds from the major ultraorthodox communities. Findings reveal that for the ultraorthodox, driving is a controversial subject that represents much more than its normative practical function in modern Western societies. It is subject to sociocultural restrictions that are reflected, inter alia, in limited public discourse on road safety. Moreover, the findings highlight the prominent educational role of women in this sector: they are exclusively responsible for raising young children, and are the sole educators of girls of all ages. In addition, as people tend to marry young, and men do not generally drive before marriage, women can influence the safety habits of their spouse as well as their children. The authors suggest building on this potential to increase awareness of road safety by empowering ultraorthodox women to serve as agents of social change in their family and community.