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Accidents in Kuwait...

Greetings ! 

Kuwait is a country where one will come across imported vehicles of latest design and shapes. The governments policy not to levy taxes on imported vehicles facilitates import of Ferraris, BMWs, Mercs, Carreras, etc, etc... Cheap petrol availability is another factor why people go for posh cars. Petrol in this oil rich country is cheaper than a Pepsi...

Kuwait has the best vehicles the world can manufacture...The roads too are maintained like airway runways....The highways are straight and multiple laned which promotes maximum speed (though the limit is 120kmh) and hence the accidents...

...the hits

The Kuwait towers in the foreground are along the Gulf Street (known as the "Corniche" in other Arabian countries). Photography of them is actively encouraged ("Look mum, here I am in Kuwait") however photography from them was, until recently, frowned upon as they overlooked one of the palaces. This has been abated somewhat with the building of two new palaces - Seif Palace and Bayan Palace, both costing several million Dinars apiece.


There are three towers - the one with the two big balls has an observation deck, snack bar and restaurant; the one big ball is a water tower and the third one (obscured here) is a lighting tower for the other two.


The other famous tower in Kuwait is the Liberation tower. Construction was actually started before the Iraqi invasion and has had several names in between, but as it was finished after liberation the name stuck. It is owned by the Ministry of Communication (MOC) and is basically a comms tower.


The smaller of the two upper structures was built as a revolving restaurant, but in my 3 years here it has only opened once a year, during the Liberation Day holiday celebration, however it is still unused as nobody can afford the outrageous franchise price asked by MOC.


The Green Island - owned by Touristic Enterprises (Kuwait tourism department) is intended to be a family orientated park. Also owned by the same group is Entertainment City and various smaller fun fairs - again these are all family orientated - however, they are all maintained by TCN labour in a country where the word "maintenance" doesn't exist (honestly!) and as such, no self respecting expat would be seen near them...

The Sheraton RoundAbout...

There is a picture of Kuwait City centre. The greenery in the centre is known to expats as "Suicide Roundabout" although it is more famous as the Sheraton Roundabout beacuse of the five star hotel nearby.


Not to be confused with "Death Roundabout" (Salmiya - End of 5th Ring Road) or "Lesser Death Roundabout" (Salmiya - Gulf Street) - Entering this circus of certain death is not for the faint hearted... (A close inspection of the picture will reveal at least four crashes and a pedestrian hit and run victim...)


Driving in Kuwait is not to be taken lightly (See the roundabout ). There are traffic rules, but they are rarely obeyed - often resulting in some horrific accidents. Seat belts, whilst compulsory are not worn and crunchy air bags are prevalent everywhere.

Traffic laws in Kuwait ?

Driving in Kuwait can be hazardous. Although Kuwait has an extensive and modern system of well-lit roads, excessive speeding on both primary and secondary roads, coupled with lax enforcement of traffic regulations and a high density of cars (one vehicle for every 2.8 residents), leads to frequent and often fatal accidents.


In 1999, there were 26,635 reported vehicular accidents, and 333 traffic accident-related deaths for a population of about 2.2 million. Many Automobiles are smashed, wrecked , and maimed daily. This results is much death and destruction to life and many automobiles....


Below are the abridged traffic rules of Kuwait with a few results of not following them:


1. Right of way

Right of way belongs to the vehicle which has it's bumper 5cm ahead of another, irrespective of whether approaching from the left or right.


2. The Kuwait scissors

When in 3 lanes of traffic, all traffic wishing to turn right should occupy the left hand lane and vice versa. One must then wait until the last possible moment before crossing the other two lanes at right angles to the traffic flow, to do so too early is to lose face.


3. Overtaking

There are four ways to get past the car in front; to the left, to the right, over the top and underneath, also known as undertaking.


4. The weave

Never hold a steady speed in one lane. You can gain as much as 20 meters over a distance of 10 kilometers by continuously swerving from one lane to another whilst invoking rules 1 and 10. The minimum speed for this maneuver is 150kph.


5. Right of way (buses)

Buses do not have right of way; they just take it. Bus horns are frighteningly louder than any others. There are some official boarding and alighting points but the buses will drop off and/or pick up passengers at any place, any time, in traffic, provided that the passenger is sufficiently fleet of foot and oblivious to the threat of traffic flowing around him.


6. Pedestrians

These may cross the road when, where, and however they wish. Be they old, young, agile or decrepit, they have the right to step into the traffic and dodge, dance or merely stolidly move across. However, motorists are encouraged to do their best to hit them, preferably at speed. (Even on the pavement) Motorist should note that most motorway bridges are 1000m apart and that pedestrians will cross at 500m intervals.


7. Traffic lights

There are nine possible combinations of traffic lights in use in Kuwait, they being; red, amber, green, red plus amber, red plus green, green plus amber, red plus green plus amber, flashing amber, and all off. Any selection of these can be found on any one set of traffic lights. The meanings of the various arrangements are not known, but if crossing when the lights are red (or any other combination) and you see a car crossing in front of you, make sure you hit it squarely in the side, if possible, at speed.


8. U-turns

These are used for changing direction and carriageway. If possible try not to pull out if a car is going past in the outside lane of the carriageway you want to pull into. If you are in a hurry, the somersault and roll method is a quicker way of achieving the same result, but avoid the lamp posts in the central reservation.


9. Parking

a) Short term: If you need to, just double or treble park, after all the traffic CAN get around you. b) Long term: Park alongside a yellow and black curb. If you are lucky the police will fit the car with an anti- theft device or tow it to a secure car park. There is however a standard charge for these services.


10. Mirrors

These are not, contrary to popular belief, for looking for vehicles behind you, but are for grooming, adjusting gutrah's & seeing where the parsley is stuck to your teeth.

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