Traffic and Road Conditions in Albania

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in Albania you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

The most dangerous aspect of living and working in Albania is the unsafe driving regularly encountered on roads nationwide, and the generally poor condition of the roads. Road conditions are especially poor in rural areas in the winter months and at other times of inclement weather. Sporadic electricity shortages sometimes result in blackouts affecting road lighting and traffic signals. Traveling at night and outside the main urban areas is particularly dangerous as road hazards are unpredictable and can be more difficult to see. Disregarding traffic laws is widespread. Traffic accidents are frequent occurrences and often result in serious injury or death. If you choose to drive in Albania, please exercise strong caution and drive as defensively as possible.

Buses travel between most major cities almost exclusively during the day, but they do not always run according to schedule and can be uncomfortable relative to buses in the United States. No public bus routes exist between cities; travelers seeking intra-city transit may use privately owned vans, which function as an unofficial system of bus routes and operate almost entirely without schedules or set fares. These privately owned vehicles may not have permission to operate as a bus service and may not adhere to accepted safety and maintenance standards or driver training; you should consider the condition of the van before you choose to travel in one. In January 2013, vans carrying passengers were robbed at gunpoint near the city of Tepelene on the route from Saranda to Tirana. Personal vehicles have been robbed in the same fashion. There are no commercial domestic flights and the rail conditions are poor, connections limited, and service unreliable.

You can only use an international driver’s license for one year in Albania. If you wish to drive in Albania for a period of time in excess of one year, you must apply for an Albanian driver’s license.

It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol and, if caught, the police may seize your driver’s license and vehicle and impose additional penalties such as a fine or up to six months in prison.

Using a cell phone while driving is only permitted when the driver utilizes a Bluetooth or other hands-free device and failure to use such a device can result in a fine.


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