Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Togo, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. While some major thoroughfares in urban parts of Togo are paved, many secondary streets are not, and they can become severely flooded when it rains. Driving conditions are hazardous throughout Togo due to the presence of pedestrians, large swarms of small motorcycles, disorderly drivers (moped, car and truck drivers), livestock on the roadways, and the poor condition of the roads, which often contain deep potholes. Overland travel off the main network of roads generally requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Many drivers in Togo do not obey traffic laws and most traffic signals do not function properly. Drivers should be prepared for the possibility that other drivers may run red lights or stop signs or drive in the wrong direction on one-way streets.
Nighttime travel is dangerous. Poorly marked checkpoints, often manned by armed, undisciplined soldiers, exist throughout the country, including in the capital. Banditry, including demands for bribes at checkpoints, has been reported on major inter-city highways, including the Lomé-Cotonou coastal highway. You should be aware of your surroundings and drive defensively. At official checkpoints, Togolese security officials prefer that you approach with your interior light on, and have your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance ready.
If driving in Lomé, you should be aware of the staged-accident ploy. In this scam, a motorbike will cut in front of you, cause a collision, and draw a crowd, which can turn hostile if you attempt to leave the scene of the so-called accident. Such encounters appear designed to extort money from the vehicle driver. Pedestrians have also staged accidents. Genuine accidents can also draw hostile crowds. You should always keep car doors locked and windows closed, and have a cell phone in the vehicle. If you are involved in an accident and feel you are in danger (e.g. if your vehicle is attacked or you are threatened) you should leave the scene, drive to a safe location such as your hotel or a police station, and alert both the police and the U.S. embassy. Carjackings are periodically reported in Togo and tend to increase during the summer months and holiday seasons.
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