Traffic and Road Conditions in Burma

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in a foreign country, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Burma is provided for your general reference only, and may not be accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Rangoon's main roads are generally in poor condition. Traffic in the capital has increased rapidly, resulting in traffic congestion during morning and early evening rush hours. Some roads are in serious disrepair. Slow-moving vehicles, bicycles, animals, and heavy pedestrian traffic create numerous hazards for drivers on Rangoon's streets. If you drive in Burma, you must remain extremely alert to avoid hitting pedestrians.

Most roads outside of Rangoon consist of one to two lanes and are potholed, often unpaved, and unlit at night. Many of the truck drivers traveling from China to Rangoon are believed to drive under the influence of methamphetamines and other stimulants. Drunken and/or drugged drivers are also common on the roads during the four-day Buddhist water festival in mid-April. Driving at night is particularly dangerous. Few streets are adequately lit. Most Burmese drivers do not turn on their headlights until the sky is completely dark; many do not use headlights at all. Many bicyclists use no lights or reflectors.

Vehicular traffic moves on the right side, as in the United States; however, a majority of vehicles have the steering wheel positioned on the right. The “right of way” concept is generally respected, but military convoys and motorcades always have precedence. Most vehicle accidents are settled between the parties on site, with the party at fault paying the damages. In the event of an accident with a pedestrian, the driver is always considered to be at fault and subject to fines or arrest, regardless of the circumstances. Accidents that require an investigation are concluded quickly and rarely result in criminal prosecution. There is no roadside assistance, and ambulances are not available. Vehicles generally do not have seat belts. Child car seats are also not available.

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