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Driving in South Africa

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Can foreign nationals drive in South Africa? What are the relating formalities? Find out in this article.

On moving to South Africa, traveling will undoubtedly be part of your everyday life. If you do not wish to use public transport, you may probably want to drive, provided you have a valid driver's license. In general, foreign nationals are allowed to drive in the country with their original driver's license provided it contains a passport-size identity photo and it is accompanied by an English translation. Moreover, the international driver's license is recognized by local authorities. In case you have not been able to translate your original driver's license before moving, you can still hire an accredited translator on the spot.

Road infrastructure

In general, most South African main roads are in good condition. However, you are likely to come across dirty roads or asphalted roads with potholes and which are prone to landslides. Beware, also, of sharp bends without any road signs. In all cases, driving in South Africa seems fair enough and is adapted to all types of vehicles.

Toll

Toll generally applies to roads linking the major cities to one another. Rates vary between R 10 and R 200 and can be paid either in cash or via bank cards.

Highway code

In South Africa, you will be driving on the left side of the road as the steering wheel is found on the right side as in England.

Driving can seem quite tricky at first, especially when you come across junctions without traffic lights. In this case, priority goes to the first coming car.

As regards road markings, continuous yellow lines on parking lots indicate prohibition to park vehicles while red lines indicate prohibition to stop.

Note that most traffic signs are in English along with one or more local languages.

Speed limits generally vary from one road to another. Thus, speed is limited at 60 km/h in cities and at 100 km/h on national roads. On fast lanes, speed is limited at 120 km/h.

Radars are not as frequent as in Europe, but you are likely to come across these in major cities and their peripheries.

Finally, a maximum of 0.5 mg of alcohol in blood is legally authorized in South Africa. However, the use of mobile phones is strictly prohibited.

Behavior

First of all, you are advised to avoid driving at night, especially in rural and poorly lit areas where you are likely to come across pedestrians and animals on the road.

On the other hand, the use of hazard lights and headlight flash is almost part of road courtesy. In fact, drivers generally communicate through these signs. A driver will generally switch on his vehicle's hazard light to thank another driver. Flashing the headlight usually means giving way or indicating danger ahead.

 Useful links:

Expat.com – Car and transportation in South Africa Forum 
Arrive Alive – Road safety www.arrivealive.co.za

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