By Mansour Abdulghaffar
Riyadh is full of highways and this makes for an “interesting” driving experience; I’ll get to that later. First and foremost, there is no rush hour. Rather, there’s “rush 15-hours” from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. Although, I admire that albeit moving at a turtle’s pace, traffic is never stationary thanks to Riyadh’s traffic flow management. Well done! Keep it up guys!
In theory, driving on a highway should be stress-free. Unfortunately, adhering to speed limits, keeping to your lane, keeping a safe distance, using turn signals and planning ahead do not exist in Riyadh. Here are some tips to stay safe on Riyadh’s streets which are replete with traffic.
1. Unlearn everything you know and re-learn driving.
And perhaps you may be able to survive these streets.
2. Speed Limit is not satisfactory for many, so try staying off the fast lane. Stick to the middle lane.
It’s fast enough and you’re closer to that exit you don’t want to miss.
3. For many offensive drivers, tailgating is the primary method of choice to “ask” other drivers to give way and move lanes.
My advice is to switch on your turn signal, move only when safe and not get pressured into breaking the speed limit. Otherwise you’ll get caught by Sahir!
4. Many drivers here have “evolved” to not use turn signals.
Experience shows that if you wish to change lanes and there is a sufficient gap, the second you switch on your turn signal the gap will disappear. All by magic!
5. Remember to make sure you know which exits you will take beforehand. Unfortunately, many drivers practice their “stunt driving” by taking all five lanes at once just 200 meters before the exit.
In summary, my advice for driving in Riyadh (and Saudi) is drive defensively, raise your guard and assume that you are the only licensed driver! If you see a driver drifting from lane to lane while chatting on his phone, give him a reality check with a couple of good honks!