E CapeFree StateGautengKZNLimpopoMpumalangaNorth WestN CapeW Cape
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There is no better place in the world to have a holiday than South Africa. For independent information, advice and facts about going on holiday to South Africa visit southafricaholiday.org.uk

South Africa Holiday: Driving tips

South Africa's road infrastructure is good, with well maintained tar roads in most localities. On this page we provide general driving advice as well as information about the road network, petrol stations, and explain the yellow line.

General information

It is likely that you will be stopped by the police at a check point at least once during your holiday, and the fines are strictly adhered to. Make sure you know the basic driving regulations and keep to the speed limits.
However, compared to the UK, driving licence enforcement and vehicle maintenance is not rigorously controlled, and people driving at high speed and /or under the influence is not uncommon.
South Africa Holiday: Wide open skies
In the more rural areas, the roads may not be fenced so there may be stray animals on the road - this could be very dangerous at night. Even where there are fences, antelopes often jump these.
Kudu are infamous for jumping almost vertically over 3m high fences when frightened by car headlights. They jump towards the lights and may land on top of the car, killing the occupants. Be warned, try not to drive on rural roads at night, watch your speed, and be prepared to stop if you see animal eyes reflected in your headlights.
You should avoid long car journeys that necessitate driving at night as it always carries more risk, both in terms of car hijacking and accidents.
Pedestrians walking alongside the road or crossing the road in rural areas and at the edge of towns is common and may pose a particular hazard. Special care is needed to avoid accidents with pedestrians.

Car hire/rental

Car hire/rental is available throughout South Africa, and one-way rental between the main cities is often available.
For the best deals it is advisable to pre-book your vehicle before arriving in South Africa.
All the major hire companies, such as Europcar, SixT, Imperial, National, Hertz, Avis and Budget, are represented in most cities and at major airports.
Its worth paying a bit extra for air conditioning. Its also worth taking out the extended insurance to cover minor accidents.
Everyone who is going to drive the car must be named and must show their licence when collecting the car.
There are age limitations when renting cars in South Africa. While some rental car companies will accept 18 year olds, many will not allow anyone under the age of 25 to drive.

The Yellow Line

The vast majority of roads in South Africa have the equivalent of a hard shoulder (the emergency lane), separated from the main carriageway by a solid yellow line. Often this is tarmac, but may be gravel.
If a vehicle approaches from behind it is common courtesy to move across the yellow line into a tarmac emergency lane to let them pass.
Once the vehicle has passed, it is again common courtesy for them to thank you by flashing their left & right indicators or hazard warning lights, and for you to return the acknowledgement by flashing your headlights back.

Which roads should you use

South Africa is a big country and the distances can be huge. Below are links to road maps for each province. These include all the roads you are likely to need (click on the province name to open up the map):
Eastern Cape
Free State
North West
Northern Cape
Western Cape
On dual carriageways keep to the left and pass on the right. Be alert as cars may pass you on the inside lane if your remain in the outside lane.
There are not as many roads as you may be used to in the UK, and signposting may not be as frequent or as obvious. All distances in South Africa are shown in kilometers.
Large signposts for right or left hand turns are frequently positioned immediately before or just after the actual turn. Slow down in plenty of time or you might over-shoot the turning.
Do not turn off onto gravel roads unless you are sure of where you are going (note: many car rental companies exclude gravel roads from their agreements - ask the rental company for advice). You will need to be more careful when driving on gravel roads.

Toll roads

There are a number of roads with tolls throughout South Africa.

Petrol stations/garages

All the national (N) roads in South Africa have petrol-stations (also called 'garages') with restaurants, toilets and shops dispersed along the route. Smaller petrol-stations  are found in all towns and smaller roads.
Service at petrol stations is provided by petrol attendants. The attendants will routinely wash your windscreen. It is worth getting the attendants to regularly check your oil level and tyre pressure. Tipping is at your own discretion, but between R2 and R5 is a normal amount.
Fuel may only be purchased with cash - you cannot use a debit/credit card to buy petrol or diesel (South African residents often have a Fuel Card which is linked to their credit car, but as a visitor you will not have this facility).
Fuel prices are set nationally by the government and are roughly the same at all petrol stations. It is much cheaper than in the UK (R6/l in 2006)

Driving licence

A full British photocard driving licence is acceptable in South Africa.
You must carry your driving licence with you every time you drive. It is illegal not to carry it.
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