Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Senegal?
Drivers think of Senegal and think of the Paris to Dakar rally, one of the sternest tests of motoring in the world. The reality is very similar with crowded city streets and dirt track roads on the whole. There's plenty to see and do when in Senegal, you just have to exercise caution if driving to see it!
Seat Belt Laws
Only people travelling in the front seats of a vehicle in Senegal have to wear seat belts. We recommend that if belts are fitted in the rear of the car, every occupant should wear them for safety.
Drinking and Driving
There is no specific limit for blood alcohol levels in Senegal. The police will stop you if they feel that your driving is erratic and charge you with a law that equates to driving under the influence of alcohol. If alcohol is seen to be a factor in an accident, you’ll be charged in a similar manner.
Must Have Documents
You will need to have your driving licence written in French or carry an international driving licence, your registration documents, proof of insurance cover to a minimum of third party and a valid tax disk. It’s also useful to have a copy of your passport with you for identification.
The speed limits for Senegal are as follows:
Open roads: 80 km/h
In Town: 50 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 16 to be able to drive in Senegal. If you're renting a car the minimum age is 23. If you are less than 25 you’ll find that a young driver premium will be added to your rental charge.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Safety camera warning devices are legal in Senegal but with road conditions so poor, there are few opportunities to exceed the speed limit in any case.
On the Spot Fines
You will be given a ticket by the police if they stop you for committing a traffic offence. The police can, and often do, confiscate a licence, particularly of foreign drivers, returning it only once a fine has been paid.
Child Safety Rules
There is no legislation for the safe transport of minors in Senegal so it is the onus of parents to ensure that children are secure in a vehicle. If you are hiring a car from us, let us know your requirements when you book and we’ll ensure that appropriate seats are fitted.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory in Senegal and you must carry proof of it by way of a valid certificate.
Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• Senegal drives on the right
• Police officers can confiscate licences until fines are paid
• Don’t drive at night unless absolutely necessary as added dangers make your journey more difficult
There are no restrictions on towing a vehicle in Senegal but for your own safety, ensure the towed item is securely attached and you can see behind it.
Senegalese police use hand held speed cameras in accident blackspots so you should always pay heed to the speed limit. Bearing in mind you can have your licence confiscated for a speeding offence, it’s preferable to stay legal.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
Whilst almost all Senegalese drivers do it, by law you shouldn’t use a mobile phone whilst driving unless you have a hands free kit.
Parking in Senegal is generally unregulated, except in the commercial districts of the main cities.
Most drivers don’t use paid parking as there is so much free parking around. If you choose this option, park your car where it is visible and close to your destination. In the main city centres you’ll find attended parking which is safer and should be used where possible.
Only if you park where you’ll cause an obstruction are you likely to encounter problems. If this happens, your car is likely to be towed to the local police station where, for a fee, you’ll be able to collect it later.
There are no noticeable concessions for disabled drivers in Senegal and it is usually up to you to find somewhere convenient. Using attended parking lots can get you some assistance but most of the time, you’re on your own!
Motor Way Signs
There are no motorways on Senegal as such although the new toll road is built to motorway standards. The main road across the continent, renowned for the Paris Dakar rally is definitely not motorway standard!
Driving licence- Permis de Conduite
Insurance certificate – Carte Verte
Services (rest stops) - Aire de repos
Bailiff (for accidents) - Huissier
Pay-and-display machine – Horodateur
End of no parking zone - Fin d'interdiction de stationer
Beware roadworks - Attention travaux
Petrol - Essence
Unleaded - Sans plomb
Diesel – Gazole
Town centre – Centre Ville
I have broken down - J'ai décomposé
Where is the police station? - Où est le poste de police?
I have a flat tyre - J'ai un pneu à plat
I have been in an accident - J'ai été dans un accident
Where is? - Où est?
Where can I buy petrol? – Où puis-je acheter de l'essence?
No pedestrians - Interdit aux pietons
Exit – Sortie
One lane road - Voie unique
Turn on your lights - Allumez vos feux (lanterns)
Closed - Ferme
There are very few sets of traffic lights in Senegal and the ones you’ll encounter are all in the main cities like Dakar. Installed on the whole by the French, the system follows the international sequence and so should be familiar to all.
There is a twenty mile stretch of toll road that runs through Grand Dakar from Dakar city to Diamniado. The tolls are comparatively low in this poor country but the road saves almost an hour on the journey.
The police can be contacted on 17, the fire service on 18 and the ambulance on 8891515.
What to do in an emergency
Mechanical problems in a hire car can be resolved by using the number on the windscreen or on the rental documentation. If in a private car, you’ll need to get the number of a reputable mechanic, either before you travel or from police or locals where you encounter the problem.
Minor accidents are usually resolved by negotiation and a cash exchange on the spot, major ones or ones involving injury, need to be reported to the police who will attend and complete a written report necessary for insurance or your hire car company.
As of November 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Senegal is £1.08 whilst diesel is £1.01. Prices can vary between the towns and the smaller villages.