Driving in South Africa – What You Need to Know

The Condition of Our Roads

South Africa is a great place to do a motorcycle tour, as our roads are in a pretty good condition, so driving is a good option when visiting. Most of the national roads are tarred an in a good condition, but the more rural roads do have pot-holes and the often occasional dirt roads.

Maps and Road Info

  • South Africa’s roads are mapped out quite well and tourists should be able to find their way around easily.
  • Travelers can make use of the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) or Google Maps to plan routes.
  • The AA also provides a lot of other information e.g. accommodation on your route or trip maps with specific destinations.

South African road signs

  • South Africa travel distances and speed limits are displayed in kilometres on road signs.
  • A white background signifies the road sign is permanent, while a yellow background signifies that the road sign is temporary.
  • Warning signs are an upwards-pointing red triangle and contain a black pictogram describing the danger or obstruction.
  • Speed limit road signs are a red circle with the limitation in black.
  • Highly important – Please note in South Africa we drive on the left.
  • Click here for a detailed breakdown of all Road Signs in South Africa.

Things to Look Out for While Driving

Watch out for signs warning drivers of “No Fencing”, “Cattle Crossing” or signs with pictures of antelope or cows. Some of the more rural areas do not have fencing and therefore cattle or other animals, like antelope, sometimes cross the road. It is a good idea to take it a bit slower if driving at night.

How Driving in SA Works

  • Our cars are right-hand drive vehicles and we drive on the left side of the road.
  • We measure speed in kilometres/hour (km/h) and distance in kilometres (km). Wearing your seat-belt is compulsory and using a handheld phone, while driving, is against the law.
  • Use hands free kits instead. Wearing a helmet, while riding a motorcycle is compulsory as well.

Who has right of way when driving in South Africa?

  • At a roundabout, you yield to your right.
  • If you are turning right, oncoming traffic has right of way.

What rules apply at four-way stops?

Four-way stops work on a first come, first serve basis.

How do the traffic lights work in South Africa? Yes yes we call these “Robots”

  • Amber traffic lights indicate that you need to slow down and come to a stop at the red traffic light.
  • Green traffic lights indicate that it is safe to go, unless you are turning right.
  • If you are turning right, oncoming traffic has right of way.

What is the legal driving age in South Africa?

  • The legal age to obtain a driver’s licence in South Africa is 18. A learner’s licence needs to be obtained before you qualify for this.
  • The learner’s licence can be obtained at the age of 17 and you will need to be accompanied by someone with a valid driver’s licence until you obtain yours.

Laws to Remember

  • Stick to the speed limit.
  • A driver’s licence should be with you at all times, when driving.
  • No handheld devices are allowed to be used to make calls while driving.
  • Drinking and driving is prohibited.

Speed Limit

The general speed limit on major routes and highways is 120km/h, 100km/h on secondary roads and 60km/h in residential areas and towns. There are signs indicating the speed limits.

Driver’s Licences

  • Your driver’s licence always needs to be with you when driving.
  • It’s only accepted if it has a clear photo and signature of the holder and is printed in English.

Where and How to Fill Up

You can fill up your tank at any of the different petrol (gas) stations along our roads. Most of them are open 24 hours, although some do have shorter trading hours. An attendant will come to fill up your motorcycle or car (the stations are not self-help) and wash the windscreen if necessary. It is advisable to fill up before your tank runs too low, as distances between towns can be quite long.

Drinking and Driving (Arrive Alive)

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious and punishable offence in South Africa.
  • If caught, you will face a hefty fine and potential jail time.
  • This is best avoided by making arrangements to use alternative transport, such as Uber, if planning to do some partying.

We would like your motorcycle rental and tour with GS Africa to be smooth sailing, so please don’t hesitate to ask us any questions if you need more information on driving regulations in South Africa. Your safety is paramount to us and we would like you to have the right information at hand to ensure a safe riding experience in our country. Contact GS Africa today for any more information or queries and we would love to be of assistance to ensure that you motorcycle rental or bike travel experience is as smooth and hassle-free as possible. Find Motorcycle Rentals for Tours in Cape Town, South Africa

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