Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Gabon, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. If you drive a vehicle in Gabon you are required to have a Gabonese driving license (permis de conduire), vehicle registration (carte grise), proof of insurance (assurance), proof of vehicle inspection (visite technique), fire extinguisher (extincteur de feu), triangles (triangles), and first aid kid (boite de soins de premiers secours). The police may verify that you have all of the required documentation and equipment if they stop you on the road or at police checkpoints.
Travel by road in Gabon can be hazardous. You should drive with your car windows up and the doors locked. Travelers are routinely stopped at police checkpoints within cities and on roads to the interior. You should comply politely if stopped, but avoid encouraging requests for bribery if possible. You should use extreme caution when driving after dark. Two-lane roads are the norm throughout Gabon. Roads to outlying cities are usually unpaved. There are many visible and hidden dangers including large potholes, absence of road signs, poor to non-existent streetlights, timber-laden trucks, and the presence of pedestrians and animals. Construction work is generally poorly indicated. Drivers may change lanes or stop unexpectedly. Lane markings are frequently ignored. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for travel beyond the paved road to Lambarene, especially during the rainy season.
Roadside assistance and emergency medical services are available in Libreville, but they may not be dependable. These services are nonexistent outside of the city. Service stations are available along main roads, but vehicle repair facilities are not always available. Bus service exists in Libreville, but buses are infrequent and routes are not generally convenient, so most people use taxis to get around the city. Use of taxis is generally safe, but does pose added risks. You should use a hotel taxi when possible. Before entering a taxi, check that the taxi has seatbelts and negotiate the rate for your trip. Rail services remain available, but infrequent, and travelers should expect lengthy delays.
Talking or texting on a cell phone while driving in Gabon is against the law.
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