Safety Tips for Renting and Driving a Car in South Africa

View of a busy road in South Africa

South Africa boasts stunning landscapes, iconic wildlife, and rich cultural experiences. However, if you’re considering exploring this magnificent nation by road, understanding the safety guidelines is imperative. Driving in South Africa can be an exhilarating experience, offering a unique perspective of the country, but only when done safely. In this blog, we’ll outline essential safety tips and what you need to know about South African road rules.

Why Driving Safely in South Africa is Crucial

South Africa’s diverse topography comes with its own set of challenges. While the nation offers a vast network of well-maintained roads, there are regions that have a high crime rate and certain roads in less-than-ideal conditions. By being proactive and informed, travelers can significantly reduce the risk of unwanted incidents.

Do Not Drive at Night

Night driving poses an increased risk in South Africa. Badly lit roads combined with unpredictable wildlife, potential criminal activities, and unfamiliar terrain make it advisable to only drive during daylight hours where possible.

Keep Your Doors Locked and Windows Closed While Driving

Carjacking and theft are very common in certain areas. Ensuring that your vehicle’s doors are locked and windows are up significantly reduces the risk of theft or unwanted entry.

Do Not Stop at Red Lights at Night

In specific regions, it’s safer to slow down and check for oncoming traffic than to stop completely at red lights at night, minimising vulnerability to potential carjackers.

Do Not Stop if You See an Accident

While human instinct might prompt you to assist, stopping at the scene of an accident, especially in remote areas, can put you at risk. Instead, report the incident to local authorities.

Drive Around Obstacles—Do Not Stop

If you notice sudden obstacles like rocks or branches on the road, it could be a scam by thieves. It’s safer to drive around them rather than stop.

Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers

Regardless of the narrative or the situation, picking up strangers exposes you to unforeseen risks.

Do Not Open Your Window to Speak to Anyone at Junctions

Engaging with strangers at stop signs or traffic lights can be risky, especially in unfamiliar territories.

Understanding South Africa’s Unique Road Rules

While global road rules apply, South Africa has its own unique characteristics. For starters, driving is on the left side. Another peculiar term to be aware of is “robots”, which are simply traffic lights.

Documentation and Compliance with the Law

  • Valid Driving License and IDP: Before setting off on your journey, ensure your driving license is valid. For non-English licenses, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is essential. Always have a form of photo ID, like a passport, handy.
  • Speed Limits: They vary across zones. Urban areas restrict you to 60 kph, secondary roads 100 kph, and highways allow up to 120 kph.
  • Seatbelt Laws: Safety first! According to the law, both drivers and passengers must buckle up.
  • Alcohol and Driving: South Africa has stringent drunk driving laws. The permissible blood alcohol limit is 0.05%. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and abstain when driving.

Exploring South Africa via road can be one of your most memorable experiences, provided you prioritise safety. When considering affordable car rental options in South Africa, being well-informed and cautious ensures you can enjoy the scenic beauty without unwanted hiccups. 

Explore South Africa by renting a car from SANI Car Rental. SANI Car Rental is a South African homegrown car rental company. Vehicles available to rent include compact cars, economy cars, premium cars, people carriers, and SUVs. SANI Car Rental has customers all over South Africa, including at all the major airports, both domestic and international. 

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