Driving in Senegal can be difficult since many drivers do not follow the regulations. Senegal uses right-hand drive. Vehicles should give priority to traffic coming from the right, except at traffic circles, where vehicles already in the circle have the right of way.
Senegalese law prohibits the use of cell phones while driving, unless the driver is using “hands-free” equipment. Protective helmets are mandatory for all bicycle, moped, scooter and motorcycle drivers/riders and passengers.
When police officers stop a vehicle for a traffic violation, the police officer will generally confiscate the driver’s license or i.d. card until the fine is paid.
All drivers in Senegal are required to have the following documents in the vehicle:
- Carte Grise: This is the vehicle registration and is a trifold paper about 3 ½ x 8 inches. In the upper left corner it states No. Immat Vehicle and lists the license plate number.
- Declaration en Douane: This is the customs declaration if you imported your vehicle into Senegal.
- Attestation D’Assurance: This is a yellow insurance card that is placed in a small plastic shield on the inside front windshield of the car. This card must be renewed annually.
- Valid driver’s license: Drivers must either obtain a Senegalese driver’s license or present their U.S. driver’s license.
- Copy of your passport: Make a copy of the front of the passport, the biographic page, and the page with your Senegalese visa.
Police officers have the authority to detain individuals who do not have these required documents.
Drivers are required to purchase third-party insurance, which will cover damages resulting in injuries where the driver is not at fault. If a driver is found to have caused an accident, the penalty ranges from five months to two years in prison, with a possible fine. If a driver causes an accident that results in a death, the penalty can be as high as five years in prison.
You are encouraged to take the following actions if involved in an automobile accident:
- Do not move the vehicle unless it is causing a traffic hazard.
- If a crowd forms and you feel you are in jeopardy, move immediately to a safe area.
- In the case of a minor accident with minimal damage and no injuries, you may wish to attempt to settle the incident. Involving the authorities will likely take a minimum of four hours. If you need to contact the authorities, the Central Police Station in downtown Dakar has a mobile accident investigation unit. If you call the Police Station at 823-2529 or 823-2333, they will give you the cell phone number of the officer on duty with the mobile unit. Most police officers in Senegal do not speak English.
- Remain calm. Avoid aggravating or inciting the other driver, the victim, or observers.
- Do not challenge a police officer or withhold documents or information.