South Africa is one of the few African countries, where you can explore the country relatively safe with your car. Nevertheless, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to get from A to B without a care in the world. Here are tips about driving a car in South Africa.
Attention: Left-hand traffic in South Africa
In South Africa there is left-hand traffic, which means that you do not drive on the right lane as usual, but on the left lane without exception. It takes a few days to get used to it. Especially when entering a traffic circle, you don't turn right as usual but to the left.
To make it easier to get used to the traffic in the beginning, a rental car with automatic transmission is advantageous. So you don't have to focus additionally also on the circuit, which is of course on your left as well. In some vehicles, the turn signal and the windshield wiper are also reversed. It can therefore happen that you accidentally operate the windshield wiper instead of the turn signals.
In South Africa you drive on the left side
How refueling works in South Africa
Refueling is one of the easiest things to do when driving in South Africa. You just drive up to a gas pump. An employee of the gas station will approach you. You just stay in the car and tell the employee how much you want to fill up the tank.
Also for paying you just stay in the car. If you want to pay by credit card, among other things, it will be brought directly to you.
If you want to take advantage of another service, such as cleaning windows or having the oil level checked, you tell the gas station attendant as well. This service is usually free of charge for you. The gas station attendant receives a small tip for this – depending on the effort, a maximum of ten Rand.
An old historic gas station in Pilgrim's Rest
Overtaking when driving in South Africa
The roads in South Africa are usually very wide and therefore also have a wide stance
Edge strip, which is well marked by a continuous line.
If someone wants to overtake you while you are driving, you can move to the side of the road to give the other vehicle space. This mutual consideration is typical among local motorists. As a thank you a short signal follows over the hazard lights.
Extra wide shoulder in South Africa
Do not leave anything in the car!
It is very important that you never leave anything in the car that is visible from the outside. There is a possibility that thieves break the windows, even to get hold of an inconspicuous object. If you want to leave something in the car, at least put it in the trunk. Valuables such as handbags, camera, mobile phone& Co. but you should always take with you.
Also, you should never allow to see your trunk in a parking lot or other similar places, for example when you are transporting your luggage. There is also the possibility of theft if you are not nearby.
Do not pick up hitchhikers in South Africa
You should definitely avoid picking up hitchhikers in South Africa that you don't know. Due to criminality, it is possible that the hitchhiker does not mean well and will rob you, for example.
Do not stop – fake car breakdown
By the way, the same applies to broken down cars. If you notice a car on the side of the road and the owner asks for help in any way, please do not stop to help. But call the police. It is possible that this is a faked car breakdown. Robberies or hijackings are possible.
Do not stop, accidents can be faked
Always lock the car
If you stop, even for a short time, to take a picture of the landscape, you should always lock your car and the windows. This is true even if you are nearby. It is possible that animal thieves like baboons try to gain access to the car. Often they grab handbags or similar items and flee with them from the car.
A baboon on the roof of a car
Always obey the speed limits
Again and again you will see road signs with speed limits, under which a sign for a radar control is attached. You should always obey the speed limits when driving in South Africa. I have not seen fixed speed cameras, but I have seen police checks with speed traps. If you get caught with a speeding ticket, you will have to dig deep into your vacation funds. All rental cars are GPS monitored. Frequent speeding may result in cancellation of insurance if necessary in the event of an accident.
It is also important that you stop at a stop sign. There is also the possibility of a high fine if the police catch you failing to stop.
Driving in South Africa: the speed limit on highways is usually always 100km/h
Beware of animals on the road
You will see road signs warning of animals on the road as you travel through South Africa. Starting with cows, horses, baboons and hippos. You should take the traffic signs seriously, because it is quite possible that there are animals on the road somewhere. This has happened to me more than once while driving.
Also brake for snakes (found in De Hoop Nature Reserve)
Turtles might cross the way (found in De Hoop Nature Reserve)
Beware of Dungbeetle (found in Addo Elephant National Park)
Cows on the road, somewhere in South Africa