Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Kuwait, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Kuwait is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Driving in Kuwait is extremely hazardous. Although Kuwait has an extensive and modern system of well-lit roads, excessive speed on both primary and secondary roads, coupled with lax enforcement of traffic regulations and a high density of vehicles (almost one vehicle for every 2residents), leads to frequent and often fatal accidents. Incidents of road rage, distraction on the part of drivers, poor driving skills, and highway brinksmanship are common in Kuwait, and can be unsettling to Western drivers in Kuwait who are accustomed to more rigid adherence to traffic laws.
The government-owned Kuwait Public Transportation Company and the City Bus Company operate bus services throughout the Kuwait City metropolitan area, on 50 different routes, which are widely used by the low-income expatriate labor force. Taxis are available at major hotels and may be telephoned to pick up passengers at other locations. It is sometimes possible to hail taxis on streets; taxis have meters, but fares are more commonly negotiated. U.S. citizens are advised to use only marked taxis with meters. U.S. citizens, especially those traveling alone and/or in darkness hours, should avoid sitting in the front seat of a taxi, do not travel to unfamiliar areas, do not enter taxis with unknown passengers, and not engage in “small talk” that can be misinterpreted as interest in the taxi driver. Visitors can use international driving permits issued by their respective countries within the time limit of their visas; however, the visitor must also have liability insurance. It is illegal to drive in Kuwait without a license and car registration documents. If an individual is stopped and cannot produce these documents, the individual may be taken to a police station and held until the documents are presented on his/her behalf.
The Government of Kuwait may provide U.S. citizens with a Kuwaiti driver’s license. Visitors and residents should consult the Ministry of Interior website for the most up-to-date information on obtaining a driver’s license.
If an individual is involved in an accident, Kuwaiti law mandates that he/she must immediately notify the police and remain at the scene until the police arrive. Involvement in an accident, even if not at fault, can lead to arrest and temporary incarceration. At-fault accidents can result in arrests, demands for financial restitution, and/or travel bans preventing individuals from departing Kuwait.
The use of front seat belts is mandatory in Kuwait. Driving is on the right side of the road. Speed limits are posted. Making a right turn on a red light is not permitted unless there is a special lane to do so with a yield sign. When a driver flashes his/her high beams in Kuwait, it is meant as a request to move the car into a slower lane to allow the driver with the flashing beams to proceed ahead. Parking is not allowed where the curb is painted black and yellow. Digital cameras for registering traffic violations, including speeding, are in use on Kuwaiti roads. Non-payment of traffic and parking fines may result in travel bans which remain in place until the fines are paid, often with penalties.
Possession or consumption of alcohol is illegal in Kuwait. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense, which may result in fines, imprisonment, and/or deportation. Repeat traffic violations or violations of a serious nature may also result in the deportation of an expatriate offender.
Kuwait has one of the highest per capita rates of cellular telephone ownership in the world; using a cellular telephone for phone calls or text messaging while driving remains illegal, although it is widely practiced. Local emergency service organizations may be contacted by dialing 112. Ambulance crews do not respond as quickly as in the United States and do not often include trained paramedics. Visit the website of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior for information and statistics in Arabic about traffic safety and road conditions in Kuwait.
You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.