Road Safety and Road Conditions
Driving can be hazardous. Although major roads are generally well-maintained, Namibia’s network of gravel secondary roads can be dangerous, with areas of washboarding on heavily used roads developing year-round, and flooding is possible during the rainy season. Defensive driving is essential to compensate for road conditions and the excessive speed and reckless passing tactics used by many drivers. Driving at night outside urban areas is dangerous, as darkened roads make it difficult to see road obstructions and animals that frequently cross the roads. Visitors planning to drive outside of Windhoek should plan to arrive at their destination before dark. Vehicles should be in good condition and equipped with spare tires and plenty of water, food, and emergency medical supplies.For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.
Road accidents remain a major concern despite a relatively good road infrastructure and good road conditions. Road accidents are one of the most common causes of fatality in Namibia. Traffic fatalities among foreign visitors occur periodically. In addition, auto accident victims are vulnerable to theft by those pretending to be helpful. Drivers in urban areas should be aware that taxis often stop abruptly to pick up/discharge passengers, resulting in frequent rear-end collisions. Visitors involved in a motor vehicle accident should report to a police station within 24 hours of the accident if police were not at the accident scene, and report the accident to the insurance company/car rental agency the next business day.
Traffic moves on the left, so it is essential to look right before crossing the street on foot or pulling onto a road in a vehicle. Drunk drivers are a major concern. As there are very few sidewalks or pedestrian crossings, visitors should be extremely cautious when walking, jogging, or biking.
Police checkpoints are positioned approximately 15 kilometers outside of the principal cities and towns on all major highways. During the holiday season, additional checkpoints may be established along the Windhoek-Swakopmund highway (B2) and near medium-sized towns. Most vehicles are allowed to proceed without inspection, but drivers should be prepared to produce vehicle registration documents, personal identification (driver’s license, passport, Namibian identification cards), and/or car rental contracts on request. All drivers should plan to stop and proceed only when waved through.
Public Transportation Conditions
Traffic laws (including signage) are routinely ignored by many public taxi drivers, who often possess poor driving skills/training. These taxis are usually marked with a large letter and identifying numbers on the driver’s side door and rear window. Many of the taxis are in poor mechanical condition, with worn tires and broken/missing tail lights and headlights. In addition, these taxis routinely pick up multiple persons. There have been reports of such additional passengers working in tandem with taxi drivers to rob passengers. Taxis found at the major hotels, reserved via phone, and reserved shuttle services tend to be more reliable and will not pick up additional passengers.
The Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek has not experienced any prominent accidents in recent years. Small airplanes and helicopters are commonly used to transport passengers and cargo between Windhoek and distant farms and lodges. There were several airplane and helicopter crashes involving privately-owned aircraft in the past year.