Saudi Arabia Driving:KSA Crazy Car Accidents
Driving in Saudi Arabia
Driving in Saudi Arabia can be a total nightmare, with many crazy Saudi accidents to navigate around on an almost daily basis, I have driven in many countries with poor driving but Saudi Arabia is by far the worst that I have ever driven in! This hub will detail out some of my views regarding Saudi driving habits, how to deal with car accidents (you will be in one - if you have driven here for more than a year and you have not had one please leave a message), and the Saudi Police. I will also recount a road rage incident involving road blocking and iron bars!
I have been working in Saudi Arabia for over 3 years, in that time I have been rear ended several times, had someone drive into the side of my car and had side panels and doors destroyed when I have left cars parked in public car parks.
My Saudi Arabia Travel hub will give you more information regarding general travel within the Kingdom and tell you about car hire and taxis, roads and roadsigns.
If you need to know about airtravel within Saudi Arabia then have a look at a Review of Saudi Arabian Airline.
I also have a few eventful stories of drives that I have made between the major cities in Saudi Arabia; Driving to Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Al-Khobar.
If you are traveling around Saudi Arabia and need somewhere to stay look at Saudi Arabia Hotels
Only when driving in Saudi Arabia - you have to watch this!
Saudi Crazy Behaviour Driving on The Road
The behavior on the roads here is terrible, most drivers are very impatient, drive far too fast, and have no common courtesy for other drivers, hence the bulk of the cars have significant dents and bumps on them! I generally see at least one accident every day in my drive too and from work (this is not an exaggeration), the drivers at times resorting to fighting over the accident (or beating the Indian or other “lesser” nationality who will not fight back or they will be in even more trouble!)
Putting a Saudi behind the wheel of a car is like chatting on line, they assume a completely different anonymous persona and start to behave like a formula one driver with zero patience and no sense (and often no driving ability.)
Lane discipline is nonexistent in Saudi, most drivers will take the wrong lane at a junction if they think they can gain any advantage, so a car turning left from the right hand lane or trying to cut back into the traffic from a filter lane is a very common occurrence. Roundabouts are a complete joke as no one here understands them and it is a total free for all. Generally it is the “bravest” driver that gains the advantage, pushing his car in to the front in the hope that others will not drive into them. But generally nobody will give so much as an inch to anyone if they should lose that inch!
The rules for one way streets and which way a carriageway should be driven depend on how close your destination is should you drive against the traffic, if it will save you a few feet in driving then most people will ignore the rules and drive against the flow even if they end up blocking the roads and causing greater delays!
On a highway the slow lane is generally the middle one or two lanes, the inner and outer lanes being used as overtaking lanes and the cars in the middle lanes being obstacles for high speed slalom racing, a great favorite amongst the Saudi youth.
Beware junctions, most drivers do not bother to look before they pull out, they trust in god so much that they believe that he will protect them even when pulling onto a packed highway with other fast moving vehicles.
The Roads In Saudi Arabia
Traffic Signals in Saudi Arabia
Beware about what signals mean, in England for instance, a car approaching a junction who flashes you with their lights is telling you that they are letting you out, here in Saudi if they flash their lights it means if you get in my way I will crush you!
Indicators appear to be a fashion accessory, only used to confuse others or show how pretty their car is. They are rarely used for actual indication of an actual turn or if they are the driver can and will change their mind as to the direction they will turn!
Hazard lights are often used, drivers will rush from one jam to the next slamming on brakes and hazard lights a few feet from the next jam just to inform the car following 2 feet behind that he is now slowing down!
Most Saudis believe that headlights can be used as a levitation device, they get close behind you and flash them repeatedly expecting you to float off the road out of their path even if there is nowhere for you to go – the bigger and more expensive the car the more this is used!
Road network for driving in Saudi Arabia
Be Very Careful Driving in Saudi Arabia
Crazy Road Traffic Accidents in Saudi Arabia
I have been driven into on more than one occasion with minimal/no damage, every time has been very civil, hands shaken and we have moved on. However the rules of the road here are that if you have an accident you are required by law to remain where you are, even if blocking a main road at rush hour until the police arrive and arbitrate the case!
This being the case I find myself delayed
most days by minor accidents that could have been moved to the side of the
road. I tend to see accidents almost every day, some days more than one! The most number of cars I have seen in one accident was over 20 involved in a shunt after one car had to stop when trying to take a filter lane into a service road and all the cars behind drove into him and each other! Only in Saudi Arabia have I seen such crazy driving and so many road traffic accidents.
Most fights seem to be Saudi vs Saudi or Saudi beating “lesser” nationalities after a minor accident. The rules of the road here as far as the police are concerned is that the Saudi is in the right in all cases, even if he drives into the rear of you when you are parked! Otherwise the police take the sensible route of blaming whoever has insurance.
I once tried to call the police after an accident , another car drove out of a turning straight into the side of mine while I was passing, the emergency numbers are 999, or 99 8,7,6 not sure what each one is for but they are all police.. I spend 30 minutes trying to get someone to answer, when they did finally answer they spoke no English and hung up on me after they told me that they spoke none! Eventually we agreed to go to the police station together as the paperwork would be required to get the insurance to fix the car.
On arrival at the police station the police officers were sat smoking on the front step, none spoke English but told the guy that had driven into me that we should return to where the accident was and wait there. After a further hour I gave up and said I would pay for the repair myself! It only cost me 200SAR about $60.
80 Car Pile up in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia Road Rage
People here as I have already said have no patience and are prone to temper tantrums, driving along a main road exactly at the speed limit I was preparing to filter off, another car came up behind me at high speed also to turn off flashing his light and hitting his horn to try to levitate me out of his path! I continued on my route as there was nowhere for me to go to get out of his way unless I wanted to go past my turning. He continued to flash his lights and honk his horn and shake his fist at me until we reached the set of lights, which were on red. Stopping behind me he got out of his car and came to my window and started to shout at me. I locked my door and shouted that I did not understand Arabic, “Mafi Arabi!” He then started to kick my door and punched my window, thankfully at this point the lights had changed and I put my foot down not wanting to get in a fight with a saudi as I would be in the wrong whatever happened. I shot off attempting to get away and turned down the road on my way to work, he followed, in a much bigger and much faster vehicle, overtook me against on-coming traffic which was swerving off the road and turned sideways blocking the entire road! I had no choice but to stop!
At this point he once again left his car, pausing to pull an iron bar about 2 feet long out from under the front seats! I could not drive away and I did not want to remain in my car while he battered it so I decided to get out of my car and confront him, I really had no choice. Thankfully I am not small and I have 2 black belts to my name so the physical confrontation was not a worry to me, he paused when he saw how big I was but then proceeded to try to hit me with the bar! I removed it from his hand and threw it into the waste ground to one side. At this point he retreated and started shouting even more, deciding that maybe I was too big for him after I disarmed him so easily! Thankfully at this point other guys were leaving their cars, two of them gently grabbed the guy and started to move him towards his car, where his wife was sat in the passenger seat with her head in her hands! After a few minutes I managed to drive away and thankfully was not followed!
Crazy Driving on Main Highway in Saudi Arabia
Traffic Police in Saudi Arabia
Traffic police in Saudi Arabia to me always look so bored, there are so many police here you would almost think that every other car has a policeman in it! They are very efficient at setting up road blocks and pulling over all but the most expensive cars for no reason at all (best not to pull over an expensive car no matter what the reason as they may know your boss, or your bosses boss!)
I have already mentioned earlier in this hub that calling the police after an accident was all but useless, no English when they did finally answer and they never turned up! On a main highway this is another story as the main highways are constantly cruised by the police, either the normal police cruisers or unmarked police cars.
I have been stopped twice for speeding in Riyadh, both times I started arguing with the police who were totally unable to speak English so they let me go! (I even had women in the car that I should not have had, but they didn't check.)
They are prone to play with the lights manually to ensure better flow of traffic, you can always tell when they do this as the queues are at least twice as long, the same goes for roundabouts and busy junctions at peak times, the police will decide to control the traffic rather than the usual free for all, this always leads to huge delays that multiply back several junctions. Do they ever learn from this, well obviously not as they keep doing it!
Traffic cameras to control Saudi driving
Traffic Cameras have been introduced into the major cities in Saudi Arabia to try to regulate the crazy Saudi Driving and reduce road traffic accidents in Saudi Arabia. You will see them on the main highways and at traffic lights to prevent people jumping the lights.
The fines are not huge for speeding, normally 200SAR, however some of the cameras are well hidden so if you are not careful driving in Saudi Arabia you could end up with multiple fines!
They also have mobile cameras now, hidden in the back of large family cars that they park at the side of the roads where they are difficult to spot except by the flash of the camera. I was caught twice in two days before I realized!
They ask you to register your mobile phone number to your car so that you can be notified to pay your fines, if you are an expat and want to leave the country you must make sure all of these fines are paid up first or you will be refused exit!
Saudi Traffic Statistics - Must Watch this (Use Subtitles)
Final word of Warning for Driving in Saudi Arabia
If you are a nervous driver (or your wife is a very nervous passenger), don't drive in Saudi Arabia!
If you are not an Aggressive driver, you will take twice as long as everyone else to get where you are going!
If in your 30 years of driving experience you have neither been hit nor hit anyone else and want to maintain this record - don't drive in Saudi Arabia, I know no one who has driven for more than 3 months in KSA that has not had some form of accident!
If you like demolition derby, "drifting" through high speed traffic, breaking rules or being an ignorant driver then Saudi Arabia is for you!
Check your Medical Insurance before you drive!
Help with Driving in KSA
Just remember that as an Expat you are always going to be in the wrong in any accident with a Saudi! You must be very careful to follow all of the Saudi rules and not offend anyone. This essential Saudi Guide will help ensure that you don't get into too many problems.
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Driving Safe in Saudi Arabia
Need to know more about driving in Saudi Arabia or just more information to decide if you even want to come here? Read my guide to being a Saudi Expat and make sure that you stay out of trouble when driving in the Kingdom.