Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Sudan, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Road conditions throughout Sudan are hazardous due to erratic driver behavior, pedestrians, and animals in the roadways, and vehicles that are overloaded or lack basic safety equipment. Only major highways and some streets in the cities are paved; many roads are narrow, rutted, and poorly maintained. While there are functioning traffic signals on major streets in Khartoum, there are virtually none in other parts of the country. Local drivers often do not observe conventions for the right-of-way, stop on the road without warning, and frequently exceed safe speeds for road, traffic, and weather conditions. Driving at night is dangerous and should be avoided if possible; many vehicles operate without lights.
In northern and western Sudan, dust and sand storms, known as haboobs, greatly reduce visibility when they occur. Roads in these areas can be quickly covered with shifting sand at any season of the year. Roads in southern Sudan are often impassable during the rainy season which usually lasts from March to October. Spare tires, parts, and fuel should be taken when traveling in remote areas, as service stations are separated by long distances.
U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling, including traffic laws. In Sudan, vehicles have the steering wheel on the left side and drivers use the right side of the road.
Traffic from side streets on the right has the right-of-way when entering a cross street, including fast-moving main streets. Traffic on the right has the right-of-way at stops. Right turns on a red light are prohibited. Speed limits are not posted, but the legal speed limit for passenger cars on inter-city highways is 120 kph (about 75 mph), while in most urban areas, the limit is 60 kph (about 35 mph). The speed limit in congested areas and school zones is 40 kph (about 25 mph).
Many local drivers carry no insurance despite the legal requirement that all motor vehicle operators purchase third-party liability insurance from the government. Persons involved in an accident resulting in death or injury must report the incident to the nearest police station or police officer as soon as possible. Persons found at fault can expect fines, revocation of driving privileges, and jail sentences, depending on the nature and extent of the accident. Persons convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol face fines, jail sentences, and flogging.
U.S. citizens may use their U.S. driver's license for up to 90 days after arrival in Sudan, and then must carry either an International Driving Permit (IDP) or a Sudanese driver's license. There are no restrictions on vehicle types, including motorcycles and motorized tricycles.
Public transportation exists in cities and between major urban areas. Passenger facilities are basic and crowded, especially during rush hours and periods of seasonal travel. Schedules are unpublished and subject to change without notice. There is routine passenger trainservice on the route from Khartoum to Wadi Halfa (on the border with Egypt) and to Port Sudan (on the Red Sea). Bus service between major cities is regular and inexpensive. Intra-city bus service in the major urban areas is by small and large buses, and vans. Many drivers of these vehicles have little training and are reckless, and the vehicles are often poorly maintained. Most buses and bus stops are privately operated and unmarked. Taxis are available in the major cities at hotels, tourist sites, and government offices. Motorized rickshaws, in common use in Khartoum, are unsafe. Travelers are encouraged to hire cars and drivers from reputable sources with qualified drivers and safe vehicles. While there is some public transit to rural communities by irregularly scheduled mini-buses, many areas lack any public transportation.
You should be extremely careful in crossing roads in Sudan. Crosswalks do not exist, and incidents of cars striking pedestrians do occur.
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