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road & traffic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second only to accommodation, personal transport ranks as one the most important issues to resolve after your arrival in Kuwait. Immobility (read "isolation") is recognized by many as one of the main causes of emotional trauma during their stay in a foreign country. This easily leads to alienation from society with obvious further negative consequences.

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Public transport in the form of a bus service is available in Kuwait. The experience however is different when compared to that in Europe or North America and can be especially challenging during the summer months. Most European expatriates will travel in private transport. Both sedan and sport utility vehicles are popular in Kuwait and products from the main manufacturers are available.

Your contribution is of course invaluable to us. Whether it's rising cost of living, a shift in traffic patterns, moving to an unknown new residential area, or commenting on life in a foreign country. We will not always publish your exact words and will certainly never make your identity public. Information can be sent to info@expatserviceskuwait.com or here. Please note that we also have a public email address which is expatserviceskuwait@yahoo.com.

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Driving in Kuwait - general info and a few handy tips to consider.

"Crazy" is an expression often heard about Kuwait's traffic situation. Based on local experience and site visitor's comments, we've compiled a few comments on driving around here. 

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Kuwait has a system of "ring roads" which makes things fairly easy for newcomers to the country. Common advice - jokingly of course - is that if you've traveled in one direction and feel lost, turn around and go back...you're bound to end up at Gulf Road or at least the beach. It has to be said that there's a lot of truth in this approach! For a bird's eye view of the Ring Road system, click here.

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Both highways "30" and "40" fan out from the First Ring Road, as well as others like the "50" and "55". This video clip shows cars traveling towards Kuwait City on the "30", queuing up at the intersection of the "30" and 1st Ring Road.

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Many companies and of course government departments still use split-shift working days - allowing for siesta afternoons! This results in very, very heavy traffic from about 12h30 to 14h30. The picture below shows traffic at peak with outgoing traffic at a standstill on highway 30 and the inbound lanes basically empty and free flowing.

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Always remember that you will be part of a truly united nations on the roads. People from all over world come to Kuwait, and many from countries where personal transport is no more than a pushbike! Strangely, many of these two-wheel riders end up driving Chevy Suburbans as house drivers for local families!

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Do not challenge other drivers if they are reckless or indiscriminate. It is true that some individuals literally have nothing to do all day long and end up on the road looking for trouble. We've heard stories of people being followed home or aggressively challenged by disgruntled drivers for miles and miles following an "incident". If you get the impression that you're being followed, drive to the nearest police station (they usually have a bunch of crashed cars parked in front of them) or drive until you see a police vehicle. This tactic normally gets your pursuer of your tail. If you have the time, report the following driver by calling 777 - he/she could be a repeat offender.  

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Pedestrian traffic is sometimes a big problem, especially as many individuals are from countries where automobile traffic is not a well known factor. Be on the outlook for pedestrians on highways, road shoulders, islands and pavements.

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When traffic builds up or comes to a halt (especially on highways), there is very little value in driving on the shoulder (inside emergency lane). Not only is it illegal and meant for emergency vehicle traffic, but you also tend to find incredibly reckless people driving there - quite often at high speed (see video) - trying to beat the traffic.

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It's true. Sometimes you will get the impression that you're driving at Silverstone or the doing the Indy500! Road racing is a common feature on Kuwaiti roads.

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Be aware that some drivers often overtake others at high speed on the emergency lanes during normal traffic. When this happens, a lot of road debris is kicked up by the offending vehicle. If you're close to such a vehicle, chances of getting your windshield cracked are very good, and in case you were driving with your windows open, you'll most certainly end up with a car (and a mouth) full of dust and muck!

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Don't challenge an offending vehicle in front of you by flashing your lights or hooting/honking - that could only increase the risk of an accident and is an open invitation to auto-aggression!

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During Ramadan many individuals make it their right to use the highways as a racing track to get to the family on time. Why not leave the office earlier? Anyway, let these people go, don't hassle or challenge them.

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Always stick to the law, nobody is above it.

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If you're in an accident, make sure you properly understand the statement that the police officer took down. This is especially true when you are the victim of a reckless driver. It has been said that foreigners are charged with an offence which they didn't commit (although they won't always suffer the consequences) thereby getting the other driver of the hook.

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It's also true that certain people will try to convince you not to make a police statement - don't be intimidated by this. Make that statement! Chances are good you're dealing with a repeat offender.

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Call your sponsor's HR or Admin department immediately if you're involved in an accident.

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Tailgating is a common occurrence on local roads. Its usually best to let that person through. This aggressive behavior comes in all shapes, right from a lowly asthmatic 20 year old Corolla to a brand new 6 liter V8 4x4 monster. To "stand your man" really does not have any benefits - even if you're in a perfectly legal position - and there's always the risk of the other driver being in a bad state of mind. Its wiser to let these bumper bashers through and allow them "sweep" the road ahead for you!

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"The accident came from behind". This is what many victims of car accidents say about their experience. The reasons - to mention a few - for the high frequency of rear-enders (accident from behind) include 1) the driver being distracted by phones or others in their vehicle (legal), 2) vehicles not road worthy or badly maintained, 3) drivers' inability to judge distance or traffic conditions, 4) aggressive driving, 5) last second change of mind, 6) sudden slow down of traffic flow in bumper-to-bumper highway traffic, 7) when drivers weave through traffic at high speed especially when they're caught up in some ego-driven manic state of mind, 8) drivers from many different parts of the world share our roads, 9) and of course the typical scenario of people driving their large SUV's as if they're low-slung Italian two-seaters.

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To get quick access to a traffic circle, enter it from the slow lane, i.e. the outside right hand lane. Due to the nature of a traffic circle (round about), the fast lanes tend to block oncoming traffic allowing the slow-lane vehicles quicker entry in the circle.

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When the traffic signal turns green, ALWAYS watch for vehicles crossing a red signal before driving. This is a major cause of the most horrific accidents on our roads in Kuwait.

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Avoid being caught in the inside lane of a traffic circle unless if you are very familiar and comfortable with driving in Kuwait.

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Do not challenge slow drivers plodding along in the fast lane. It's much easier to just go around them especially as the chances of the driver actually moving over is very slim.

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It's typical for people to use their hazard lights when it rains - even in very light rain! Although extra care should always be taken in wet weather, do not be alarmed by hundreds of cars flashing hazards.

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During the rainy season - usually only a few days between mid-December to end January - be aware of extra slippery conditions when there's only been very light or even "mud" rain. This leaves the road incredibly slippery due to residue buildup (dust, oil, rubber, spillage) on the road which turns into a micro paste/sludge with a bit of water. It also happens that it only rains in one area of the city while the sun is shining in another - calling for extra care from the driver to adapt to these different driving conditions. As a last note, rain has been seen in odd months, including October and November.

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IN CASE YOU'RE WITNESS TO RECKLESS DRIVING CALL THE TRAFFIC POLICE IMMEDIATELY AND REPORT THE VEHICLE'S LICENSE NUMBER - MANY RECKLESS DRIVERS ARE REPEAT OFFENDERS.

DIAL 112

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CLICK HERE FOR A ROAD SIGN GUIDELINE. THE GUIDELINE IS NOT OFFICIAL AND IS NOT ENDORSED BY ANY AUTHORITY IN KUWAIT. KINDLY REFER TO THE TRAFFIC DEPARTMENT FOR CURRENT, APPLICABLE ROAD SIGNAGE IN KUWAIT.

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To check if there are any violations against your vehicle's license plate, go here.

Are there any violations against your Civil ID? Go here.

This is especially handy if you plan to travel out of Kuwait (if you have many outstanding violations you may be prevented from leaving the country).

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