Driving rules & regulations

Stay on the right side of the law

While the driving laws are similar to most other countries, the standard of driving is poor and police enforcement lacking. People frequently talk on their mobile phones while driving, speed, overtake recklessly, ignore red lights and generally disrespect the rules of the road and their fellow drivers.

Driving in Saudi Arabia can be a challenging experience but if you are sensible you can avoid most problems.

Street conditions in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has a developed transport network and modern road infrastructure. The price of petrol is the lowest in the world which makes people very keen on driving and the roads reflect this. In 2013, Saudi Arabia was ranked 12 in terms of road quality , ahead of the UK and US. The kingdom has the second best roads in the Middle East, following Qatar.

In Saudi Arabia, eight-lane highways link the kingdom’s large cities and are generally well maintained. The roads on the coast are built to resist the hot climate and do not reflect light onto driver’s arms. Outer city highways such as those connecting the coasts are less well maintained.

Traffic safety

Saudi Arabia is routinely ranked as having some of the world’s highest number of accidents and fatalities. A Saudi Arabian study from 2012 estimated that by 2014 , one person would die every hour on Saudi Arabia’s roads. With no national speed limit, lack of police enforcement, an abundance of fast cars and frequent rule breaking, the fatality rate is unsurprisingly high.

Studies show that women tend to be safer drivers than men and since they are prohibited from driving, a macho and competitive attitude has developed on Saudi Arabian roads, increasingly the overall danger.

Accidents

It is mandatory to have third party car insurance which will cover drivers in case of an accident. If an accident occurs, you will need to call the police on 993. The police will need to know details of the accident and your location. Contact your consulate and your work sponsor if you have one for further advice. If you cannot speak Arabic, you should nominate someone trusted to call the police on your behalf and explain what happened when they arrive, so the blame is fairly attributed.

Do not accept any responsibility at this point with the other party. It is advisable to stay clear of the other driver, to avoid any road rage-related incidents. If the other driver demands money you must refuse and wait till the police arrive. You can only get your car repaired with written permission and so you cannot leave the scene of the accident until the police arrive. You may have to visit a police station if the police require it.

The police will make a decision about which party is responsible for the accident. You will receive two documents, one is an assessment of the damage and the other apportions blame; this is worked out as a percentage e.g. 50:50%or 25:75 (per cent).


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