Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Nepal is provided for general reference only and may not apply in every situation.
In Nepal, vehicles are driven on the left-hand side of the road. Travel via road in areas outside the Kathmandu Valley remains dangerous. In general, roads in Nepal are in poor condition and lack basic safety features, resulting in significant numbers of accidents and fatalities. Deaths from motorcycle accidents have risen dramatically in recent years and U.S. citizens should consider avoiding riding motorcycles in Nepal, particularly on highways. It is dangerous to travel on the roof of buses as live electrical and other communications wires hang low in many places. Traffic police also impose fines and detain individuals for riding on the roof of buses. Long-distance buses often drive recklessly and bus accidents involving multiple fatalities are not uncommon.
Visitors throughout Nepal, including in Kathmandu, are encouraged to use metered taxis and avoid public buses and microbuses. Many taxi drivers will refuse to use the meter, insisting on negotiating the price instead. In addition, there have been instances of taxi drivers tampering with the meters in an attempt to charge higher than normal fares. If you believe that you are being overcharged, you may wish to file a complaint with the traffic police on the street or at the nearest local police station.
In the Kathmandu Valley, traffic jams are common on major streets, particularly between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. as most offices in Kathmandu are open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Traffic is poorly regulated, and the volume of vehicles on the roads continues to increase faster than improvements in infrastructure. Many drivers are neither properly licensed nor trained, vehicles are poorly maintained, and public vehicles are often overloaded. Sidewalks are nonexistent in many areas and many drivers do not yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in marked crosswalks. A road expansion project, begun in earnest in 2012, has left considerable debris along many roads in Kathmandu. Pedestrians are forced either to walk over the debris, or walk into the roadway to avoid it. Pedestrians account for a considerable portion of all traffic fatalities in Nepal.
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