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.
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.
is of course invaluable to us. Whether it's rising cost of
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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
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,
Both highways "30" and "40" fan out from the
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Always stick to the law, nobody is above it.
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.
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.
Call your sponsor's HR or Admin department immediately
if you're involved in an accident.
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.
"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
"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
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.
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
Avoid being caught in the inside lane of a traffic
circle unless if you are very familiar and comfortable
with driving in Kuwait.
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.
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.
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.
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.