Ask The Rabbi

Traffic Theology

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Traffic Laws

Dr. Michael A. Goldenhersh from Jerusalem wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

According to halacha, Jewish law, is it an obligation to obey all traffic laws without exception? This refers both to drivers and pedestrians. For example, is it forbidden according to halacha to cross on a red light, when it is clear that no vehicles are approaching? Must one worry that others will learn from his behavior, and cross also when crossing is dangerous?


Dr. Michael A Goldenhersh,

I asked your questions to a noted halachic authority in Jerusalem. He responded that you must observe traffic laws for two reasons: One is the concept of Dina d'malchuta dina, that the law of the land prevails. Secondly, other people (children) can learn from your actions, so disobeying the laws could bring others into danger.

However, the definition of "breaking the law" depends on the way the law is enforced. If the authorities are not so strict for instance, if they won't fine you for going 60 in a 55 mph zone, it would be halachically permitted to go 60. (We don't advocate that you do so; and we're not saying you don't have to pay the fine if you do get fined for doing so.)

I personally am very meticulous about obeying all the traffic laws. For example, when I'm driving down the highway and I pass the sign that says "State Police," I immediately state "Police."


 
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