Driving in Oman
The Royal Omani Police (ROP) looks after regulation of traffic in the country. The traffic police carry out vehicle registration checks frequently. In view of this it is advisable that you to keep all vehicle related documents such as insurance papers and rental agreement handy at all times. Road safety programs are constantly updated in Oman to make driving a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
European style traffic rules are prevalent in Oman except here the driver in the inside lane has priority. An international driving license is a must for all visitors to Oman. To obtain an Omani driving license a US citizen should have held a valid driving license for one year or take a driving test.
Always wear your seat belts and do not drink and drive. Respect speed limits and do not cross a red light. All cars must be legally insured and registered. Oman is a mountainous country and it is advisable to exercise caution while driving particularly outside city limits. Heavy rains lash the country every few years and most roads are flooded at the time.
Always make children sit at the back and use child seats for children below the age of four. Any driver flashing his or her high beams is asking for an opportunity to pass. Respect lane boundaries and pay attention to painted arrows on each lane to see what directions are possible from your current lane.
Wadis are a distinct feature of roads in Oman and they are the first to turn in to rivers when heavy rains strike.
Traffic laws in Oman are strictly enforced and the consequences for violating them may be described as severe. Instances of some penalties are: mandatory, non-bailable detention period of 48 hours for crossing a red light. This is followed by confiscation of one’s vehicle and car registration plate and driver’s license until the Omani judicial process is concluded, which could take several months. Other common traffic violations that attract strict penalties up to and including fines and/or deportation and jail sentences include: excessive speeding, drinking and driving, driving without a license, failure to wear a seat belt, talking on cellular telephones while driving (other than using hands-free technology), overtaking another vehicle, screeching a car’s tires or failing to keep one’s car clean. If you are found guilty of a traffic violation and fine, you should cooperate with police officers and should not attempt to pay or negotiate payment at the time of the traffic stop.
In case you are involved in a car accident contact the Royal Omani Police on “9999”. A modern ambulance service equipped with trained staff has been around since 2004 and it currently serves only Muscat and certain urban areas.
If you are involved in an accident outside Muscat, do not move your car from the accident site until the ROP permits you to. The ROP has devised new procedures to be followed in the event in minor road accidents in which there is no damage to the people or vehicles involved. Details relating to the same are available on the ROP website and visitors would do well to familiarize themselves with these procedures.
Photo: Christopher Rose