Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Worst Drivers in the World: Traffic Fatalities by Country

Driving in the Middle East is a whole other world, a world of chaos until you realize that the rules are different, no matter what the published rules are. To drive in Qatar, I started at 0430 on a Friday morning, when there was little or no traffic (things have changed) and would drive until traffic began to thicken. Eventually, I knew the city and gained confidence that I could drive without getting killed. In Kuwait, for months, I would only drive to relatively nearby shopping areas, or drive only on back roads carefully plotted on the map during low traffic hours. After a while, you begin to get a sense of things, and the sensation of imminent death lessens.

Adventures in Qatar: a radiator dropping off a truck in front of me, being hit on purpose by a man who didn’t like women driving, being pushed into a round about by a Hummer, being nearly assaulted by two young Qataris who believed we had insulted them by being in the lane where they wanted to be, watching men drive up the wrong side of the ring roads because they were too important to wait in line, later standing and laughing at their crashed cars – Daddy would buy them another. It sounds crazy, but you get used to it.

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Kuwait was a whole different ball game, controlled chaos at high speeds. Adventures in Kuwait: the sleeping elderly man driving in the lane next to me who almost hit me, watching drivers drive through red lights as if they were green, sparks off the fenders of SUVs on Highway 30 as people wove quickly in and out of traffic, the dramatic crashed and burned out cars on the sides of the highways, the car impaled on a palm tree – 10 feet above the road. Kuwait was so surreal that I couldn’t even begin to imagine how some of the accidents happened; I learned to be a very prayerful driver.

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So out of idle curiosity, today I looked up highest rate of traffic fatalities per country, and found this on Wikipedia. So here’s a surprise . . . Kuwait’s fatalities statistic is roughly equal to that of the United States. Qatar’s is significantly higher, and many countries are even double or triple Kuwaits fatality rate. I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around this.

List of countries       Fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants

World                          20.8

Afghanistan              39.0
Albania                       13.9
Angola                        37.7
Argentina                   13.7
Armenia                      13.9
Australia                     5.71
Austria                         8.2
Azerbaijan                  13.0
Bahamas                     14.5
Bahrain                       12.1
Bangladesh                12.6
Barbados                    12.2
Belarus                       10.9
Belgium                      10.1
Belize                           15.6
Benin                          31.2 1
Bhutan                       14.4
Bolivia                        16.7
Bosnia and Herzegovina 10.9
Botswana                  33.8
Brazil                          19.9
British Virgin Islands 21.7
Brunei Darussalam 13.8
Bulgaria                    8.8
Burkina Faso          31.1
Burundi                    23.4
Cambodia                12.1
Cameroon               28.1
Canada                      9.2
Cape Verde              25.1
Central African Republic 32.2
Chad                         34.3
Chile                         13.7
China                          5.1
Colombia                  11.7
Comoros                   30.3
Republic of the Congo 28.8
Cook Islands           45.0
Costa Rica                15.4
Croatia                        9.1
Cuba                            8.6
Cyprus                       10.4
Czech Republic       10.4
Denmark                    3.1
Dominican Republic 17.3
Ecuador                      11.7
Egypt                           42.0
El Salvador                12.6
Eritrea                         48.4
Estonia                          7.5
Ethiopia                       35.0
Fiji                                   7.0
Finland                         6.5
France                           5.5
The Gambia               36.6
Georgia                        16.8
Germany                       4.5
Ghana                           9.32
Greece                          14.4
Guatemala                  14.7
Guinea-Bissau           34.4
Guyana                        19.9
Honduras                    13.5
Hungary                      9.9
Iceland                         3.8
India                             11.1
Indonesia                    16.2
Iran                               35.8
Iraq                               38.1
Republic of Ireland     3.51
Israel                               3.7
Italy                                 8.7
Jamaica                        12.3
Japan                              3.85
Jordan                           34.2
Kazakhstan                 30.6
Kenya                             34.4
Kiribati                            7.4
Republic of Korea        11.3
Kuwait                            16.9
Kyrgyzstan                     22.8
Laos                                 18.3
Latvia                                8.7
Lebanon                         28.5
Lesotho                           26.7
Liberia                             32.9
Libya                                40.5
Lithuania                        14.8
Luxembourg                     9.0
Madagascar                   33.7
Malawi                            26.0
Malaysia                          24.1
Maldives                          18.3
Mali                                  32.1
Malta                                  3.4
Marshall Islands            7.4
Mauritania                      35.5
Mauritius                         11.1
Mexico                              20.7
Federated States of Micronesia 14.4
Mongolia                         14.5
Montenegro                    14.6
Morocco                          28.3
Mozambique                     7.0
Myanmar                        23.4
Namibia                          28.6
Nauru                                 9.9
Nepal                                15.1
Netherlands                     3.9
New Zealand                   8.6
Nicaragua                      14.2
Niger                               37.7
Nigeria                           32.3
Norway                            5.4

Oman                              21.3

Pakistan                         25.3
Palau                               14.8
Palestinian territories 5.6
Panama                          12.7
Papua New Guinea      14.2
Paraguay                        19.7
Peru                                 21.5
Philippines                   20.0
Poland                           10.7
Portugal                          7.9
Puerto Rico                   12.8
Qatar                              23.7
Republic of Macedonia 6.9
Republic of Moldova 15.1
Romania                         9.4
Russia                            19.5
Rwanda                         31.6
Saint Lucia                   17.6
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6.6
Samoa                           12.8
San Marino                  0
Sao Tome and Principe 33.0
Saudi Arabia                29.0
Senegal                          32.5
Serbia                              9.8
Seychelles                     18.5
Sierra Leone                28.3
Singapore                       4.8
Slovakia                          7.1
Slovenia                        10.4
Solomon Islands        16.9
South Africa                 33.2
Spain                               6.9
Sri Lanka                      13.5
Sudan                             34.7
Suriname                       15.8
Swaziland                     26.3
Sweden                            2.9
Switzerland                    4.7
Syrian Arab Republic 32.9
Tajikistan                     14.1
Thailand                       19.6
Timor-Leste                 16.1
Togo                               28.1
Tonga                               7.0
Trinidad and Tobago 15.5
Tunisia                          34.5
Turkey                            13.4
Turkmenistan             18.6
Tuvalu                             9.5
Uganda                         24.7
Ukraine                         11.2
United Arab Emirates 37.1
United Kingdom           3.59
United Republic of Tanzania 34.3
United States of America 12.3
Uruguay                        12.8
Uzbekistan                    9.7
Vanuatu                        18.6
Venezuela                     21.8
Vietnam                        16.1
Yemen                           29.3
Zambia                         25.6
Zimbabwe                    27.5

Like all statistics, I think some are honest, and some need to be taken with a grain of salt. I found reading through them fascinating. You can get more information, accidents per thousand cars, total accidents, etc.

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April 17, 2013 - Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Law and Order, Lies, Living Conditions, Qatar, Road Trips, Safety, Statistics, Technical Issue | ,

6 Comments »

  1. The reason why we have less fatalities Kuwait is: We’re exceptional drivers!

    You know why we’re exceptional? well, you need to know how to survive on those crazy roads, and in order to survive, you need to be a bit crazy like everyone else! And since everyone’s breaking the law to get there faster, you need to develop survival skills. Break the law, not your neck. Thats our motto.

    I’m joking by the way, I hate the way we drive. I drive nicely when I’m abroad, but in Kuwait I can’t help but drive like everyone else. Not proud.

    Comment by Yousef | April 17, 2013 | Reply

    • (Snort!) LLLLLOOOLLLL, Yousef! I think AdventureMan got it right, if you don’t drive like everyone else in Kuwait (i.e. notch up the aggression) you become part of the problem. Way-too-slow drivers in barely functional cars caused as many accidents as the fast drivers.

      Comment by intlxpatr | April 17, 2013 | Reply

  2. Those figures are per 100,000 inhabitant not per capita. So the higher the population the higher the figure.

    Comment by Darya | April 20, 2013 | Reply

  3. Good catch, Darya; I had trouble getting the formatting right and didn’t get the complete headings. But a higher population would not result in a higher rate, because the rate is figured on a level basis for every country, regardless of population – in this measure. As you saw on Wikipedia, the total traffic fatalities are also listed.

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 20, 2013 | Reply

  4. Those statistics need to be taken with a shipping container full of salt ! How does a small country like Barbados with less than 300,000 inhabitants have roughly the same road fatality rate as large countries like the US ? Even 12 road deaths in a year would be considered high there. Road deaths are not necessarily a measure of how bad drivers are. It’s the total lack of rules or inability to follow them along with the dents and scratches on cars that provide this info :)

    Comment by Steve | June 27, 2013 | Reply

  5. Steve, you are right, the statistics are only as reliable as the statisticians who provide them, and many are doctored. The deaths are per 1,000, so, in theory, regardless of the actual number – and many of those numbers are also available at the referenced Wikipedia article – are comparable from country to country.

    Comment by intlxpatr | June 28, 2013 | Reply


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