Driving in Kuwait

car crash
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This has got to hurt. How fast were they going?

It’s a typical scene, though usually you see rollovers. Every weekend in the morning, you can see the results. Usually, in the 30 km drive into the city, there are a couple along the way. And they don’t take away the damaged vehicles immediately if they are off on the side of the road. You’d think this would remind people to drive more safely. The problem is, once you spin out, if you don’t fly off and do this, you’ll catch a wheel in the soft sand at the side and roll.
car crash
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This police vehicle had just flown by my friend when it hit the side of a large truck. How do they explain this to the boss?
Well, I’ve been doing it firsthand for three months now. I’m getting used to it. It isn’t easy and has many hazards. But it can be done.

The average is three deaths per day, two being pedestrians.

Of course, no right of way for pedestrians. But also they take chances. You have to assume that even on a side street, the car is going 150 kmh and not cross.

car crash
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Here is a classic example of bad driving moves in combination. The passing vehicle had just passed a car and was parallel with my friend. He keeps a camera on the dash and presses the shutter to get the photo. Then, while out to pass, note the so-called passing area ends with the dashed white line, and it is nearing an uphill, and after the bus, there is another car to pass. Well, the good point is these Caprices have serious power for passing.

car crash
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This one hit the back of a boat that was being pulled on a trailer.

car crash
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This one was a Nissan SUV.

The other day, I was cruising on a side road — not at 150 — when my intuition told me that because there was a boulevard in the middle with trees, there might be a pedestrian or something. Well, I eased up on the gas and, sure enough, out of the shadows, making a dash. Well, of course, he was OK. This time.

Lose concentration for a minute, and you are sure to be ploughed down by a raving lunatic in a hulking SUV. As the article said in the Friday Kuwait Times, Cars love to wrap themselves around lampposts, kiss the derriere of the vehicle in front and hug pedestrians. How sweet.

What else?

  • Some drivers think the lanes in the road run in a zig-zag course. A clogged road is a clogged road, the dont’ get there much faster!
  • Flashing headlights high beams. This is very common. Fly in the left lane close to 200 km/h, flashing the high beams (using the ‘dipper’). And they won’t back down even though the left lane is full. They still think you should pull over. And the other day I saw a famous one. They flashed the car, and it pulled into the middle lane. Then they remembered that they had to turn right, so they crossed over to the right, almost hitting the car that just moved over and turned right.
  • Xenon lights are also flashed. This is almost blinding.
  • The road design is very bad. Lanes disappear, and people just move over. Ladies with veils and no peripheral vision or men in headdresses move without looking. Signs can’t be seen because they are not clear or the greenery is overgrown.
  • Left turn at a light. Well, let’s see. Far left lane, mandatory. Next lane like normal turn or straight. In the third lane, there is an optional left turn if it is busy. so don’t think of going straight in the second lane. I did that, and the driver on my right, who should only go straight, honked at me as if I was in the wrong.
  • Cell phones, well, sometimes people slow down, or they fly past you and then slow down as they talk on the phone. And we all know how well people drive well on the phone.
  • And last but not least. You sometimes see kids on quads bombing along the side roads or the odd motorcycle zooming by. Today’s paper shows two kids going down the street doing a wheelie.

Oh, and there are lots of traffic circles. The one in the center of the city has six roads out and many lanes. I’m not sure who has what right of way.

So what to do? Drive defensively with the right amount of aggression. What does that mean?

  • Scanning and scanning as if at war. Anticipate idiot moves everywhere due to aggression and incompetence.
  • Road Signs and Red Lights. Be careful. If you stop, you may get rear-ended. Everyone runs lights. Generally, it is OK. The lights are on a long cycle. If you are first off the line, look carefully before going.
  • Pedestrian crossings, forget it.
  • Speed: drive as fast as you think you can go safely. don’t worry about police. If they are following with lights on and flashing, don’t worry. Just let them pass. They always drive with lights on. Probably they are on the way to an accident, possibly fatal. Police cars have been seen moving over to let SUVs pass, which flash them also. Maybe the SUV driver has more political influence than the police officer. If you are in an accident, you can’t move your car until the police come.

Wait, there’s more:

  • Nobody uses car seats, kids standing in the driver’s lap or heads out of the sunroof. They should give car seats to new mothers who leave the hospital or not let them leave. That would never work; the doctors would have to do it, or nobody would listen.
  • There are no daytime running lights. I keep mine on, and people flash me to be helpful, or the security checkpoints tell me they are on, so I turn them off then on down the road. The lights go off automatically when I lock the doors with the remote, anyway.
    ul>The paper gives a final caution: as a pedestrian, if drivers beckon you to cross, be wary. There is always a blind spot or change of mind by the driver!

    The final parting photo is below. This is a crash in a residential area. How fast were they going? And they did it all by themselves, like many of the crashes here.
    car crash
    Click here for a full-size image.


One response to “Driving in Kuwait”

  1. This is the perfect site for everyone who wishes to find out about this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject which has been written about for ages. Great stuff, just wonderful!

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