On the Road in South Africa

    On the Road in South Africa

    Public transportation is a great way to travel, but if you are a tourist who prefers to keep your own itinerary and schedule, then there is nothing better than being behind the wheel of a car. You will find that South Africa has an excellent network of highways and roads. The national road system is the N-prefixed series of highways. You can rent a car in South Africa if you are 23 years of age or older, and have been driving legally for at least five years.

    Roads to Remote Areas

    Some of the more remote areas of South Africa are accessible only by private transportation. Roads into these areas range from excellent to poor. In some rural areas, only the main roads are paved. However, dirt roads are usually levelled and kept in relatively good repair. These roads will take you to the places you’ll want to visit if you are the sort of traveller who likes to get off the beaten path.

    Rules of the Road

    To drive a motor vehicle in South Africa you must be 18 years of age or older, and possess a valid driver’s license, printed in English, and bearing your photograph. Otherwise, you must get an international driver’s license before you leave your home country. While driving in South Africa you must have your driver’s license with you at all times, and your vehicle must be equipped with a red warning triangle for use in emergencies. South Africans drive on the left. Unless a road sign or a traffic officer tells you otherwise, always yield the right of way to vehicles approaching from the right. It is considered a courtesy to pull over to the paved shoulder and allow faster vehicles to pass. Where speed limits are not posted, the limit is 60 km per hour (37 miles) in urban areas, and 120 km per hour (75 miles) in rural areas.

    Care and Safety

    When driving in South Africa, always be alert for wildlife crossing signs. In mountainous areas watch for falling rock signs. In urban areas you must watch out for livestock and pedestrians. The police advise visitors not to pick up hitchhikers. The use of seat belts is compulsory, and children especially must be properly secured. The police strictly enforce laws against drinking and driving. The legal blood alcohol level is 0.05 percent, the equivalent of one glass or beer or wine. Always leave your car locked, with nothing valuable in plain view.

    Pit Stops

    Gasoline is relatively inexpensive in South Africa. In some of the arid interior regions, there are great distances between towns. Therefore, when you see a service station, it’s a good idea to stop and fill up your tank. Also make sure you have a supply of water in the vehicle. Some highways are equipped with emergency telephones. Whether you are on the six lane highway between Pretoria and Johannesburg, or driving along a rural dirt road, you are your own travel guide, so take all due care for your own comfort and safety. You’ll want to remember your tour of South Africa for all the right reasons.

    Rachel Hill is a Southern Africa Travel specialist, a company specialising in luxury, tailor-made South Africa holidays, as well as holidays to other destinations in Southern Africa. Our experienced consultants will help you design your very own luxury holiday, and will be happy to provide you with a free quote.