When driving in Accra, use extreme caution; it is not so much thievery but the drivers you need to be careful of! Road hazards are numerous. One should always drive defensively, especially on highways, (tro-tros have been known to avoid a pothole in their lane and hit oncoming traffic in the wrong lane). Many accidents result in fatalities. It is also a good idea to keep your car doors locked and your windows rolled up. This discourages street vendors and purse snatchings.
An International Drivers Licence is valid for use in Ghana until its date of expiry or for one year after entry in Ghana – whichever comes first and needs to be accompanied by the license from your own country. It is advisable to apply for a Ghanaian licence as soon as possible after arrival. This is normally issued on presentation of a valid license together with four coloured passport photographs and the fee.
In 2014, if you wish to drive using your foreign license, it will need to authenticated by the issuing country's licensing authority. It's recommended that this is done prior to moving to Ghana as it may be difficult to obtain this authentication from your country's embassy or high commission. The authentication should be addressed to the following:
THE DIRECTOR, DTTL,
DVLA P.O. Box 9379, KIA
Ghanaian drivers are extremely courteous at certain times. Almost invariably, they will give way to another driver who signals a left turn in front of them. This is often signalled by blinking headlights. Be careful though, those flashing headlights may also mean that the driver of the car, truck or tro-tro is telling you he or she will not get out of anyone's way as the vehicle barrels down a road.
Traffic circles in Ghana are common and in many cases are too small for the volume of traffic they must support. As a consequence, they tend to be bottlenecks to the smooth flow of traffic. Remember that drivers already in the circle have the right-of-way. The driver going farthest in the circle drives closest to the centre. If you are not leaving the circle at the next exit, get into the inner lane immediately since if you are in the outer circle you could impede those who want to exit. Police are now often posted to aid the flow of traffic through the busiest circles.
When driving at night, be extremely careful as the visibility is poor due to lack of lighting and the roads are full of potholes. In addition, be aware that there are many pedestrians on the road at night.
Drivers tend to drive without headlights at night and often without parking lights, flashing on a high beam when they see you approaching. This, combined with the absence of street lights, can be blinding. Be extremely careful driving at night in Accra and think twice about driving outside the city at night.
If you are involved in an accident, driver or not, call the police immediately and your company/mission's security officer. Take note of the other party's license, registration, insurance company's name, witness details, etc. Report the accident to your insurance company. If you sense trouble or the situation is becoming out of hand, drive to the nearest police station, report the accident immediately and then follow the police officer's instructions. It is strongly advised to carry your cell phone with you at all times.
You must stop at a police barrier or a random checkpoint whenever required by a police officer. Normally you will be asked to give your papers – driver's license, insurance and car registration (see crime prevention section about copies of your documents) and they can also check for the warning triangle and fire extinguisher (those 2 items are mandatory in each car). We have also heard of a check for spare tire, jack and first aid kit. If there is a problem, remain polite and make sure you understand what's going on and what's expected from you. You can ask for the name or badge number of an officer who is harassing.
A current booklet of road rules can be obtained from the Vehicle Examination and Licensing Center off Liberation Rd, behind the Police Church. Before arriving, please check with your employer if you need an international driver license or not. Most Western driver's licenses are recognized while waiting for a Ghanaian License.
Watch out for scams, especially at night. For example, someone claims to have been hit by your car or rear view mirrors, but will "take care of it" if you give him or her money. Send a bystander to fetch the police. Never put someone who claims to be injured into your car, unless it is obviously a life-threatening emergency.