Driving in South Africa

South Africa does not have a good public transport system throughout the country. In the large cities it is possible to get around by public transport but outside of the cities it is very difficult if not impossible. The best way to get around in South Africa is by car, either your own or a rental. There are a lot of car rental companies where you can safely and affordably rent a car to go and explore South Africa.

However, when joining the local South Africans on the road it might be good to know some of the rules and customs of driving in the country!

- Alcohol behind the wheel:
There is a legal limit for blood alcohol. That limit lies at 0.5 per mille. That is the same in the entire country. Although there are not many traffic controls, motorists will be severely punished when he/she gets caught while driving under the influence of alcohol.

- Left-hand traffic:
One should make sure they do not forget that in South Africa one should drive on the leftside of the road. Overtaking will be done on the right side.

- Parking:
In the city’s parking can be a problem. Most of the time there are parking attendants that are selling parking tickets. If you see a yellow, solid line, it means it is not allowed to park there. When there is a solid, red line, you cannot stop there either. When you park your car wrongfully, you risk a heavy fine.

- Using a cellphone in the car:
It is not allowed to use your cellphone in the car. This is only allowed when you are using a hands free set.

- Safety belts:
One has to wear his seatbelt all the time. In every seat in South Africa.

- Driver’s license:
When you want to drive a car in South Africa, an international driver’s license is required. The minimum age for driving a car with an international license is 21 years.

- Road Crossings:
The rule at four-way-stops without traffic lights is: Everyone stops at the stop sign. The person who arrived at the crossing first, will drive first.

- Automobile Association:
The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) has a country-wide break down service. When you are a member of a European AA, there is a big chance that you can make use of their services as well, if you can produce a membership card. Tel: 0800 010101.

- Petrol stations in South Africa:
South Africa has a dense network of petrol stations. In most stations there is still leaded gas available as well, as there are a lot of people that are driving old cars here. The petrol station attendant will always fill-up your car for you and sometimes gives extra services as well, like cleaning the window. He expects a tip of at least 2 Rand. The only way to pay for cash is cash payment. Cheques and credit cards are not accepted.

- Speed limits:
Speed limits are applicable on every road in South Africa. In the towns that is 60km/h and on a provincial road it will be 100km/h. On the freeway the limit is 120km/h. There are heavy fines for violating the speed limits. Although there are not many speed controls, you can expect them around towns.

- Road Conditions:
The roads in South Africa are in very good conditions. The only exceptions are some rural areas. There you might find that there are a lot of potholes in the road.

- Overtaking:
The freeways in South Africa often have only one lane in each direction, next to that there is mostly a broad shoulder lane on each side. It is regarded as normal to give way to faster travelling vehicles, you can make overtaking easier for them by changing to the shoulder lane. When the driver of the overtaking car flashes his hazard lights, it is a token of gratitude.