Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Cabo Verde, or any foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Cabo Verde is provided for general reference only, and may not apply in a particular location or circumstance.
Cabo Verde has an extensive road system. Asphalt roads previously were relatively uncommon, except for airport connector roads. However, on the islands of Santiago, Sal, and São Vicente, many urban and rural roads are now asphalt. On the other islands (Fogo, Brava, Maio, São Nicolau, and Boa Vista), some roads are still narrow, winding, and mostly cobblestone, though an increasing number of roads are asphalt. Although a clear improvement in terms of the country’s overall transportation infrastructure, the new asphalt roads often lack speed bumps and as a result enable a degree of reckless, high-speed driving previously unseen in Cabo Verde. During the rainy season, cobblestone roads are especially slippery, and mud and rockslides are common on roads that cut through mountains.
Houses are often located adjacent to roadways, and drivers must be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially children, as well as herds of livestock. Roads and streets are often unlit, so driving at night is hazardous. Most accidents result from aggressive driving, excessive speed, passing in blind curves, and/or on inclines or declines in the rain. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a problem in Cabo Verde. The peak times for drunk drivers are on Sundays and at night, but one can encounter them at any time. Also, extreme caution toward both pedestrians and other drivers should be exercised after celebrations, festivals, and open-air concerts as well as during holiday periods, such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Carnival.
Full-service gas stations (no self-service) are available and quite modern, often with their own convenience stores. Taxis and buses generally offer clean, dependable service on all islands. Bus service in Praia is inexpensive, and most buses are fairly new. Intra-island service usually consists of minivans (typically a Toyota Hiace) or converted pickup trucks that have benches along the edges of the pickup bed. However, intra-island service can be dangerous because some drivers overload their vehicles, exceed the speed limit, or drive after drinking alcohol. Before entering any vehicle, riders should pay close attention to the appearance and behavior of the driver.
In Cabo Verde, traffic moves on the right side of the road, as in the United States. At intersections, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way, but at roundabouts (traffic circles), cars inside the circle have the right-of-way. Under Cabo Verdean law, seat belts must be worn at all times by the driver as well as the person in the front passenger seat. Children under 12 must sit in the back seat. Motorcyclists must wear crash helmets and use headlights at all times. Bicycling is common in Praia and in some other areas. The use of helmets, gloves, and /or other protective gear while bicycling is more widespread than in mainland African countries but not governed by local laws/regulations and not at all universal. Pedestrian striped crosswalks are common in Praia, Mindelo, and other large cities/towns, and are widely used and heeded by motorists.
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