DRIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA
Our road infrastructure is excellent, so driving is a viable option, but South Africa is a huge country not easily traversed in a day, so plan your journeys carefully. If you’re not used to driving long distances, rather break the journey, as fatigue is a major contributing factor in motor vehicle accidents.
While most national roads are tarred and in good condition, the more rural the road, the more likely it is to be pot-holed and poorly surfaced.
Road info, maps
Current information on the conditions of roads can be obtained through the Automobile Association of South Africa. The AA also provides invaluable guides for road users in the form of strip maps tailored for specific destinations and information for tourists on accommodation en route.
Main roads are identified by colour and number rather than by name, and with a good map which incorporates the route marker system, visitors should have little difficulty in finding their way around.
Watch out for animals in rural areas
Be aware that the roads in many rural areas are not fenced, so you could find dogs, chickens, sheep and even horses or cows on the road, so it may be dangerous to drive at night. Large antelope crossing the road can also be a hazard in certain areas – watch out for the road signs depicting a leaping antelope, and take it slowly, especially towards evening.
Keep left, belt up, think kilometers
We drive on the left-hand side of the road, and our cars – rental cars included – are right-hand drive vehicles. All distances, speed limits (and speedometers) are in kilometers.
Wearing of seat belts is compulsory. Using hand-held phones while driving is against the law – use a vehicle phone attachment or hands-free kit, if you want to speak on your mobile phone, you’ll The law prohibits the use of hand-held phones while driving but that doesn’t stop most of the locals from using them.
The general speed limit on national highways, urban freeways and other major routes is 120km/h (75mph). On secondary (rural) roads it is 100km/h (60mph). In built-up areas it is usually 60km/h (35mph) unless otherwise indicated. Check the road signs.
Any valid driver’s license is accepted provided it bears the photograph and signature of the holder and is printed in English. If not, then remember to always carry your license and passport to avoid misunderstanding.
A variety of petrol (gas) stations are situated on both main and country roads. Most of them are open 24 hours a day, although some keep shorter hours. However, distances between towns (and therefore between petrol stations) can be considerable, so it is advisable to fill up your tank before it starts giving warning signals.
South African petrol stations are not self-help: an attendant will fill the car, check oil and water and tire pressure and, if necessary, clean the windscreen – for which he or she will expect a tip of two or three Rand.
Please note that driving under the influence of alcohol is a very serious, punishable offense in South Africa and will result in a night a jail. We will gladly arrange a party bus should you wish to go for a night on the town.