Today, I want to talk about a very popular topic for expats living in Kuwait. With all the mixture of different cultures with different driving habits in Kuwait, it seems to be known as one of the most dangerous places to drive in the world. An article on kuwaitlocal.com reports there was an average of 303 road accidents per day in 2015. They sourced the statements in this report from the Interior Ministry statistics by the Traffic General Department that revealed over 110,892 accidents were registered for the year 2015. (Read that article here) Keep in mind that number is only the accidents that were registered. That’s astronomical, given the size and population of Kuwait. Pretty small in comparison to other countries throughout the world.
If you already have experience driving in Kuwait, or just being a passenger, these numbers really shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. The best advice I could give to avoid becoming a member of these statistics is to drive as defensively as possible and adopt some of the local habits of driving safely. Also, leave your ego at home.
Some techniques to avoid getting into an accident:
- Avoid tunnel vision. You should always be actively scanning traffic and activity on the side of the road at all times while behind the wheel. Keep your head and eyes on a swivel.
- Avoid distractions such as cell phones, eating, or putting on makeup, just to name a few. Keep your concentration completely on driving safely.
- Avoid tailgating. Driving too closely to the car in front of you is a sure way to find yourself as a passenger in the backseat of another person’s car without an invite. (I’ll let that marinate…) The car in front of you can stop suddenly for any reason. The more space between your car and theirs, the more time you have to react to avoid hitting them.
- Expect the unexpected. Assume that other drivers will drive in a way to cause an accident and adjust your driving to avoid becoming part of that accident. I’ve avoided countless accidents with this technique alone.
- When merging onto a highway or between lanes adjust your speed to the flow of traffic of the lane you are about to enter. For example, when coming off a ramp to enter the highway, you should be gradually gaining speed so that by the time you enter the highway your speed matches the speed of drivers on the highway.
- Merge cautiously over to the right when being approached from the rear by an aggressive driver to allow them to pass.
- Drive within the speed limit but not super slow. Driving too slow can be just as bad, if not worse, as driving too fast because you are an additional object that a majority of the traffic has to maneuver around. If you must drive well below the speed limit, stay in the far right lane.
From my personal experience, most of the drivers on the road have this “me first” mentality which is the prime cause of many of the accidents and traffic congestion on the roads. Driving during high traffic times would leave anyone to believe that Kuwait is over populated with automobiles. Could be valid, but maybe there is a deeper cause to why you could find yourself stopped on the highway in bumper to bumper traffic for no apparent reason.
You are traveling along on the highway and suddenly have to come to a stop from all the congestion ahead. After a good 10 minutes of constant stop and go, traffic seems to be moving smoothly again and you can return to a normal speed. Now what on earth could have caused this? Did you notice that exit ramp you just passed full of cars. Usually drivers in Kuwait will use the middle lane as well as the far right lane to take the exit. Does that seem like a issue with too many cars on the road or too many people with bad driving habits?
Let me know what you think below in the comments. Also, I would love to hear your experiences with driving in Kuwait. Leave a comment below or join a discussion in the Community section.
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Be safe and happy travels.