Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Azerbaijan, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Fatalities from traffic accidents are high and continue to rise each year. The information below concerning Azerbaijan is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Azerbaijan is rebuilding its roadway system. Although the newer sections of the road system are a marked improvement, the older sections are poorly constructed and poorly lighted. There are unfinished road sections that are extremely dangerous due to lack of proper construction and hazard signage.
Driving hazards, such as open manholes, debris, sinkholes, and potholes, are common in Baku. Many drivers do not pay attention to traffic regulations, signals, lane markings, pedestrians, or other drivers. Drivers often travel at extremely high speeds, and accidents are frequent and often serious. Pedestrians do not use crosswalks to cross the street and often stand in the median between lanes of traffic, even at night. Driving in Baku should be considered extremely hazardous. Outside the city, even where roads are present, conditions are similar. Roads are often in poor repair and unlighted, and they lack lane markings, traffic signs, and warnings. Many rural roads are largely unpaved.
Throughout Azerbaijan, traffic police enforce traffic laws inconsistently, and routine traffic stops are common. If stopped, drivers should have all required documents with them, including passport or local registration documents, driver’s license, vehicle registration documents, and proof of insurance. Talking on the cell phone while driving carries a fine of AZN 50 (about $64 USD). Driving under the influence carries a fine of AZN 80-100 (about $102-$128 USD) and 5 points. If you get 10 points in one year, the fine is AZN 120-150 AZN (about $153-$191 USD) and 2 years’ suspension of license.
Most taxis in Baku are neither metered nor regulated. Older Russian-produced cars used as private taxis are widely regarded as unsafe. Visitors must negotiate the fare before entering a taxi. Recently, a fleet of new, London-style taxis have been deployed in Baku. They are metered and can be found near most places catering to tourists.
Although the city of Baku has invested in new buses and the quality of its underground metro system is very good, public transportation throughout the remainder of the country remains overcrowded and poorly maintained.
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