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Driving in Niger

Hi,

What do you think of the way people drive in Niger? How different is it from your home country?

Respecting the road safety rules, driving etiquette such as general courtesy, speed excess… what are the characteristics of the driving style in Niger?

Share with us the difficulties one may face when driving in Niger: peak hours, road conditions, accident, etc. and your advice to drive safely in the country.

Thank you in advance for participating,

Maximilien

The U.S. Embassy likes to remind its citizens during town hall meetings where terrorism, epidemics or civil unrest are discussed that traffic accidents are the most likely cause of accidental death for expats.  WIthout a doubt, Niamey traffic is the most stressful part of living in the city and it's getting worse as thousands of more young people get motorcycles and scooters each month and as the wealthier people get second and third cars so that their wives and children can drive.

Niger already has plenty of driving challenges with bikes, push carts, camels,herds of livestock, large trucks, wheel chairs and used cars from Europe and North American sharing the road simultaneously with pedestrians and children dashing across busy streets without looking or even attempting to make eye contact with drivers.  However, it's the increasing number of motorcycle drivers who believe they're immune to all traffic laws that give cautious drivers a great deal of anxiety.  These motorcyclists weave in and out of traffic and often choose not to stop at stop lights.  As a car driver, you may think that you're clear to make a left-hand turn or to change lanes, only to discover to your horror that a motorcycle has now maneuvered to your indicated place on the road.

If you are in an accident, wait for the police/gendarmes to come and investigate.  If the accident results in a fatality, you will go to jail until a judge makes an initial determination if the accident was reckless (criminal negligence) or not. 

Sadly, traffic police are not well-respected in Niger, though many do a decent job of directing traffic and occasionally stopping the scofflaws.  On occasion they stop Westerners, but I've never felt that I was particularly targeted, unless I violated a traffic law (like not completely stopping at a stop sign in front of a police man).

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