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Driving in South Africa.

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Safari country.

Hiring a car in South Africa opens up the whole country for you to explore and see the many varying sights that the country has to offer. Although during the day driving is a great way to get around, it is advised that you avoid driving at night, especially in the large cities. If you drive to the more remote parts, carrying a mobile phone is essential.

Traffic rules do differ to that which you are used to. Traffic lights are often referred to as robots, when the light is green and you wish to turn right, approaching traffic still has right of way. If lights turn amber, you must slow down and stop. A flashing green arrow indicates you can go. A flashing red arrow on the left means you can turn, as long as the road is clear. A steady red or green arrow means you can proceed with caution.

Four way stops are common in South Africa and generally speaking the first car to arrive at the four way stop will have right of way. If you arrive at the same time as another car, common courtesy applies. 

Why not read our South Africa travel guide? You may also like to view information about destinations in South Africa.

Tips for driving in South Africa

Driving licence

You are advised to obtain an International Driving Permit.

Which side of the road do they drive on?

Drive on the left, overtake on the right. The first to arrive at a junction has priority.

Seat belts

If fitted, seat belts must be worn at all times by all occupants of the vehicle.

Driving with children

Children under 3 should be placed in a suitable child restraint system. If rear facing, it should only be secured in the front passenger seat if the airbag is deactivated.

Older children weighing between 15-25kgs should be seated in a booster seat with a seatbelt in the rear of the vehicle.

Blood alcohol limit

The blood alcohol limit is 50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Can I use a mobile?

It’s illegal to use a mobile unless you have a hands-free kit.


A single yellow line means no parking at any time; a single red line means no stopping. You must not park facing oncoming traffic.

It is illegal to park a vehicle on the opposite side of the road facing oncoming traffic.

On the spot fines

The South African police can issue on the spot fines which can be paid at police stations.

Animals on the road

Livestock is generally not fenced in, and as a result end up everywhere. Don't be surprised to round a bend to find a herd of cows crossing the road in front of you.

Likewise, wild animals are a common sight on many roads so be careful – particularly at night.

What should I do if I breakdown?

If you breakdown, call the supplier who will be able to advise you further. It is recommended you contact ourselves at the same time to ensure you follow the correct procedure.

What should I do if I have an accident?

If you’re in an accident, you MUST notify the Police and the car rental provider and get an accident report for insurance purposes. Failure to do so may result in you footing the whole bill. It is recommended that you contact ourselves at the same time to ensure you follow the correct procedure.

Toll roads

Many of the national roads are toll roads so ensure that you have cash or a credit card with you. A road toll is payable on freeways within the Gauteng province. The routes affected will include the N1 from Pretoria, the R24 to the R21 to Pretoria and Johannesburg's ring roads on the Randburg and Alberton routes. There will be 185km of roads affected by the tolls.

Current toll roads in South Africa

N1: Great North Toll Route, Huguenot Tunnel Toll Route, Kroonvaal Toll Route

N2: North Coast Toll Route, South Coast Toll Route, Tsitsikamma Toll Route

N3: Highveld Toll Route, Midlands Toll Route

N4: Maputo Development Corridor Toll Route, Magalies Toll Route

N17: Springs-Krugersdorp Toll Route

Driving distances

Cape Town to Johannesburg – 1,398km (14hrs 5mins)

Cape Town to Durban – 1,635km (15hrs 15mins)

Durban to Johannesburg – 568km (5hrs 30mins)

Durban to Port Elizabeth – 90km (10hrs 15mins)

Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth – 1,046km (9hrs 35mins)

Port Elizabeth to Cape Town – 755km (8hrs)

Kruger Park to Cape Town – 1,809km (17hrs 20mins)

Kruger Park to Durban – 743km (8hrs)

Kruger Park to Johannesburg – 407km (4hrs)


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