How To Drive In South Africa

By | October 28, 2021

Driving in South Africa is like driving in other countries. Let’s take you through some few thing you will need to start driving in south Africa.

Driving Licence

It is an offense to drive in South Africa without a driving license. Find driving schools in South Africa here.

Before applying for a driving licence, you must have a learner’s licence. Find how to obtain your South African Driving Licence.

Rules of the Road

In South Africa, we drive on the left-hand side of the road, and our cars – rental cars included – are right-hand drive vehicles.

Keep to the left and pass right

All distances, speed limits (and speedometers) are in kilometres.

There are strict drinking and driving laws – with a maximum allowable alcohol blood content of 0.05%. Translated that means about one glass of wine for the average woman and perhaps 1.5 or two for the average or large man.

Four-way-stops are commonly found at the quieter intersections – the first vehicle to arrive has priority. On roundabouts, give way to the right, although this is often overlooked and it is wise to proceed with caution.

Wearing of seat belts is compulsory. All occupants of a vehicle are required to wear seatbelts whilst travelling if you are caught without you will be subject to a fine.

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.

Speed limit

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 and obey the speed limit at all times

Speed limits are maximum speeds. If it is raining, misty or the road is congested, reduce speed.

Reduce speed near areas where there is a pedestrian activity.

Safety / Protection against Criminals

When driving anywhere in South Africa, try to apply the following safety precautions:

Always drive with your doors locked and windows wound up, especially when stopped at traffic lights.

Don’t ever stop to pick up hitchhikers, however innocent, lost or appealing they look. If you are worried about someone’s plight, stop at the next town and report it to someone there.

Do not leave anything valuable on show in your car when you leave it unattended, and always lock your car when you leave it, even if you are only going to be gone for a few minutes.

Try to always park in a busy, well-lit area.

Take advice from your hosts where you are staying, and ask if there are any areas that tourists should avoid driving through

Do not confront aggressive or abusive road users.

If possible avoid travelling at night or in remote areas.

Thieves have been known to employ various methods to make a vehicle stop, enabling them to rob the occupants. One such method is the placing of large stones in the middle of the road. In the circumstances, it is prudent to carefully drive around the stones or obstacle, rather than stop the vehicle.

General tourism and road safety tips for driving in South Africa

Ensure that your vehicle is checked thoroughly and in good condition before embarking on a journey

Check your vehicle at the start of each day – check the oil and water, that all indicators and lights are functional and that tyre pressure is adequate.

Plan your journey beforehand to avoid unnecessary stops [e.g. off-ramps to unknown destinations].

If you need directions it is best to stop at a petrol station and ask the attendants.

Always maintain a safe following distance and switch headlights on when visibility is poor, ensuring that you are visible to all road users.

Always respect the warnings on road signs – 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.