Driving In South Africa

Driving standards and norms vary from country to country. Here you can read about driving in South Africa and what to do to make this a safe and pleasurable experience.


South Africa is vast with many good roads that, provided some basic precautions are taken, can provide an enjoyable driving holiday.

In South Africa any valid driving licence is accepted as long as it bears the driver's photograph and signature. Vehicles are driven on the left hand side of the road as in the UK.

The major roads are all well signposted and all signs are written in English. Petrol stations on the national roads in South Africa are modern and have restaurants, restrooms and shops. These are the safest places to stop for breaks in your journey.

Due to the sheer magnitude of South Africa, distances between towns and cities are long so drivers should ensure they fill the car long before the fuel gauge is on empty. Petrol stations in South Africa are not self-service and the attendant will fill the car for you, check oil and water, tyre pressure and clean the windscreen for which they will expect a tip of two or three rand.

Many major roads between the large cities are toll roads and charges can differ from R2.40 and R46 for a light passenger vehicle, so make sure you have enough cash or a valid credit card on you.

Basic information about driving in South Africa:

  • You should carry your driver's licence with you at all times.
  • Seatbelts are compulsory both in the front and back seats
  • At roundabouts you should give way to the right as in the UK. However, in addition to roundabouts, there are four way stops where the rule is the person who gets there first is the one who has priority.
  • Using hand held mobile phones (called cell phones in South Africa) while driving is illegal.
  • In South Africa traffic lights are called robots.
  • Avoid driving at night especially on rural roads where the farms are not fenced - animals on the roads could cause serious accidents.
  • In some areas antelope present a danger to drivers, watch out for the leaping antelope sign and drive cautiously, especially at sunset and early evening.

Speed limits:

  • On national open roads the limit is 120 kilometres per hour.
  • On secondary roads the limit is 100 kilometres per hour
  • In built up areas the limit is 60 kilometres per hour, but this can be less in some areas such as near schools.

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