Traffic and Road Conditions in Malawi

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in Malawi, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Malawi's principal highways are generally in good condition, although safety hazards include the lack of road shoulders, frequent potholes, pedestrians, bicyclists and livestock. Secondary roads are in poor repair and may be impassable to all but four-wheel drive vehicles during the rainy season (November-April). Public transportation, consisting primarily of minibuses, is unreliable and accidents are common. Modern coach buses are increasingly common on the main cross-country routes. Fuel supply, both diesel and gasoline, is often erratic, and travelers should plan accordingly.

Given Malawi's high road accident rate, you should drive defensively and avoid road travel outside cities at night. Road support networks for stranded drivers do not exist. Police roadblocks are common and properly documented drivers usually pass quickly and without incident. If you intend to remain in Malawi for an extended period of time you are expected to obtain a locally-issued driver's license.

Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of death among travelers to Malawi due to atypical road hazards. There are no medical facilities that provide comprehensive emergency care comparable to U.S. standards. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You should always wear your seat belt when available, try travel in well-maintained vehicles, insist that the drivers maintain a safe speed, and avoid travelling after dark.

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