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Here's some information to help you stay safe during your trip.
South Africa is a vast country, but driving between venues is relatively easy. South Africans drive on the left and all road signs should be written in English, so from that point of view it won't feel much different from driving at home.
Similarly, it's a legal requirement that you wear a seatbelt at all times, and using mobile phones whilst driving is prohibited, again just like here in the UK.
You must have both your driving licence and some photographic ID on you whenever you're driving in South Africa. If your driving licence doesn't have your photograph on it you should have your passport with you.
In general the quality of the road system is good, with most roads tarred and generally well maintained. A high number of the main routes are toll roads, with costs ranging from a few rand to nearly R50, depending on distance travelled. You can pay by cash at all toll stations, and some also card payments.
Toll roads are well signposted and you should have plenty of warning that a toll section is approaching. There are signposted, non-toll routes, but these will naturally increase your journey time.
Road works are common. You may see workers at the side of the road waving red flags at you – don't be alarmed, it's simply an early warning that there are road works ahead.
Watch out for the variable speed limits through road works. You may find that you're overtaken by local drivers, but don't be tempted to match their speed, as mobile speed cameras/traps are often sited in road works.
A lot of main roads between large cities are long and straight, which can make maintaining concentration difficult. Be watchful for other motorists who may be speeding and overtaking.
Road signs can be a little erratic, and won't always match what you may have on maps or sat nav systems. Plan your journey as thoroughly as you can in advance to cut the risk of getting lost.
There are speed cameras just as in the UK, although they're mainly in towns and cities. If you have hired a car, the speeding fine will go straight to the hire company and could be debited directly from your card.
There may also be speed traps on the outskirts of towns and cities, where police wait to catch motorists just getting out onto main roads.
There is no such thing as an 'on the spot' fine, so refuse any demand for immediate payment. The correct procedure is that your details are taken down (including your passport number), and the speeding ticket is then issued with instructions for payment.
If someone is approaching to overtake you, the custom is to move across to the left to make it easier for them to do so. However, be careful when doing this, as potholes are more frequently found at the far edges of the road.
Watch out for livestock. More often than not livestock is not fenced in and in rural areas there is always a risk of rounding a bend and being faced with a herd of cattle. Just be aware and alert, particularly at night time.
Most if not all petrol stations take cash only for payment, and they are not self-service. Your car will be refuelled by an attendant, who will often clean your windscreen, and you should remember to tip the attendant (R3-R5 should be sufficient). Most petrol stations have cash machines, but some in the more remote areas may not, so make sure you've enough cash to pay for your fuel.
All documents should be read and used in accordance with the terms and conditions. This document is for your general information only and is not a detailed statement of the law. It is provided to you free of charge and should not be used as a substitute for specific legal advice. If you require specific legal advice please contact our helpline on 03700 868 686.