Traffic and Road Conditions in Yemen

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

The security situation throughout Yemen remains dangerous, and travel to urban and rural areas is restricted for U.S. government personnel. All U.S. government employees are required to travel in armored vehicles when traveling outside secure facilities.

Yemeni security officials advise against travel to rural areas, and the Government of Yemen sometimes places restrictions on U.S. citizens travelling outside Sana’a. Please check with local security officials for the latest restrictions.

Road conditions in Yemen differ significantly from those in the United States.Travel by road in Yemen should be considered risky. Within cities, although minivans and small buses maintain somewhat regular routes, they pick up and drop off passengers with little notice or regard for other vehicles. Taxis and public transportation are widely available,but the vehicles may lack safety standards and equipment.Western women have reported incidents of sexual harassment by taxi drivers, especially at night.

Despite the presence of traffic lights and traffic policemen, drivers are urged to exercise extreme caution, especially at intersections. While traffic laws exist, they are rarely enforced and not adhered to by motorists. Drivers sometimes drive on the left side of the road, although right-hand driving is specified by Yemeni law. No laws mandate the use of seat belts or car seats for children. The maximum speed for private cars is 100 kilometers per hour (62.5 miles per hour), but speed limits are rarely enforced. A large number of underage and unlicensed drivers are on the roads. Many vehicles are in poor repair and lack basic parts such as headlights, taillights, functional turn signals, or doors.

Pedestrians, especially children, on the roads constitute a hazard in both rural and urban areas. Pedestrians frequently cross the street without regard for oncoming traffic. Animals may cross the road without warning in both cities and rural areas. Beyond the main intra-city roads, which are usually paved and in fair condition, rural roads generally require four-wheel-drive vehicles or vehicles with high clearance. Many rural roads are in poor condition, and mountainous roads often are not equipped with safety railings. Drivers should take special caution in the spring and fall, when rainstorms can cause flash flooding on roads in both urban and rural areas.

Travelers should be aware of the existence of minefields that remain from Yemen's civil wars. Traveling off well-used tracks without an experienced guide is extremely hazardous, particularly in parts of the south and the central highlands.

There are strict penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Additionally, reckless driving that causes an accident resulting in injury could result in a fine and/or prison sentence. If the accident results in death, the driver faces a maximum of three years in prison and/or a fine. Under traditional Yemeni practice, victims' families negotiate monetary compensation from the driver proportionate to the extent of the injuries -- a larger amount if the victim dies.Westerners involved in traffic accidents -- including minor fender benders -- face increased risk of extortion.

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