Driving in South Africa

 

 

A cautious approach and respect for traffic regulations will help you navigate South African roads with ease. Here are a few pointers to help you along the way.

You must carry your driving license at all times. Here is how you can get a South African learner's license:

To apply for a learner's license you must be 17 years of age. You can obtain your learner’s license at any licensing department in South Africa, but preferably the closest to you. Requirements are as follows:

• An appointment date (made from the call centre)

• ID book (or temporary ID)

• Eye test

• R66

• 2 ID photo

On the day of the test you will need your SA ID book, receipt of appointment and R36 issuing fee.

Requirements for a full driving license include:

• The driving test examiner uses K53 method.

• You will be required to produce your valid learner's license.

• Knowledge and understanding of road traffic signs.

• Knowledge of rules and warning signs of the road.

• R150 for issuing of the license

• 3 ID photos

Basics

Driving is on the left hand side.

Do not entertain beggars and street vendors who approach your car to ask for money or peddle their wares.

The rules governing roundabouts (referred to as traffic circles in South Africa) are the same as those applicable in the UK.

As a general rule, whenever you approach a 4-way stop, right of way rests with the first person to reach the intersection. If you happen to reach the intersection at the same time as someone else, then the person on the right has right of way.

Very often you may find oncoming traffic flashing their lights at you. This could mean there is a police check ahead or a speed camera ahead or an accident ahead.

The general rule applicable while driving after dark, when approaching an intersection, whether there are traffic lights or stop streets is that you should treat it as a yield and proceed through it if you consider it a safe alternative. Look around and observe, most South Africans in the same situation will slow down, rather than stop. Waiting at intersections, particularly after dark and you are alone, is not safe.

Most shopping complexes have designated parking areas but if you're parking on the streets, always look for a parking bay. In South Africa it is illegal to park facing the traffic. Most parking is paid for and if you choose not to use a parking bay, you may be approached by people seeking to make a quick buck by watching your car. As a general rule, always opt for a parking bay and avoid such people.

Warnings

Speed limits in urban areas are 60kph, rural areas (or long-distance single carriageway roads outside urban areas) are 100kph, and national roads / freeways are 120kph. Dual carriageways in some urban areas have varying speed limits which could be 120kph, 100kph or 80kph. Keep your eyes open for road signs. A points based penalty system has recently been introduced.

The traffic department in South Africa is not required to give notice or warning of speed cameras. Traffic enforcement officers can use anything - radar, cameras or lines on the roads to catch violators. They may hide in unmarked vans, disguised vans, bushes or even dustbins to trap you.

In the past, the traffic department has used video footage submitted by members of the public to get convictions. Even if you don't see a police car avoid not stopping correctly at stop streets or traffic lights.

Common hazards that you are likely to encounter on the road are livestock, pedestrians on motorways, beggars, vendors and car theft.

Absolutely never get out of your car on the shoulder of the road.

In Case of an Accident

In case of a breakdown or a minor accident where there is no significant damage to property or people, move the car to the side of the road. Put on your emergency indicators, wait inside the car with your doors locked and call the police on 112.

Remember, irrespective of the magnitude of the accident, the police must be informed of all accidents and incidents. They will give you a case number that will be required for all insurance claims.

In case you need to make directory inquiries, the numbers for cell phone service providers in the country are:

Vodacom: 110, MTN: 200 and Cell-C: 146