Road Rules Of South Africa

Before you hire a car in South Africa check out our rules of the road guide. Road safety is paramount especially when you’re driving in a foreign country (and in a hire car) so have a quick look over our driving tips for South Africa.

Left hand drive

In South Africa, you must drive on the left hand side of the road. If you’re overtaking a car; you pass it out on the right hand side.

Speed Limit

In built up areas the speed limit is 60km/hr whilst this increases to 100km/hr in rural areas and 120km/hr on all major highways. Special speed limits also apply in the Sahara and in other preserved areas.

Copyright: South African Tourism - Cape Town, South Africa

Please note that these speed limits are strictly enforced – in fact the South African police force use speed guns and cameras to catch anyone travelling over the limit. If you’re caught for speeding, the fine may vary but they’re often in excess of R300.

Legal Age of Driving

The legal age of driving in South Africa is 18. Please note that you must have a full license if you’re hiring a car with most rental companies and you may incur an extra charge if you’re under 25.

Other laws

You’re probably familiar with a number of the other laws which include wearing a seat belt (safety belt) at all times in a moving vehicle.You’re not allowed drive while talking on a mobile phone. A hands-free kit must be used.

It’s also illegal to drink and drive.You must bring your full drivers license with you at all times when driving in South Africa.


Like everywhere else in the world the price of petrol is constantly rising. At the moment a litre of petrol will cost you around R4. All garages accept cash but most don’t accept credit cards.

Copyright: South African Tourism - Johannesburg, South Africa

As there can be some long distances between filling stations in more rural South Africa, just make sure your car is full of fuel before you begin your journey. You may not meet another garage until you arrive at your destination.

Having said this garages are usually found along all major routes and are often open 24-hours. A petrol attendant will fill your tank, and tipping is at your discretion.

Road conditions

Road conditions in South Africa vary from excellent well-designed highways that run between the major cities and tourist attractions to the not so well designed dirt tracks or ‘rural roads’ as they are fondly known. We would advise you to stay off these ‘rural roads’ as they are untarred and hard to drive on.

When driving in South Africa no matter what road you’re on you must be on the look out for pedestrians and wild animals, which may cross in front of you.

Traffic is light when compared to international standards but if you’re adamant on avoiding rush hour traffic, refrain from driving between 7am -8.30am and 5pm – 6.30pm.

Find out everything you need to know about South Africa’s roads on the South African national roads authority website.

General Tips

In dusty conditions and in wet and rainy conditions it’s advised to switch on your headlights to ensure oncoming vehicles can see you. Also make sure to take note of any road signs.

Oh and if you’re worried you won’t be able to decipher the sign posts don’t worry – they’re in English!

If you’re carrying luggage with you it is advised to keep it in the boot. As in any foreign country, just be vigilant when you’re driving – the usual sort of stuff, don’t pick up hitchhikers and to be on the safe side keep the windows and doors locked.

So there you have it – South Africa’s rules of the road are very similar to those in Europe so you should have no trouble at all when it comes to driving here. All you’ve to do now is plan your South Africa itinerary and enjoy this wonderful country – you’ll discover there is more to South Africa than just lions! Just check out our articles on Cape Town, Durban and the wildlife parks of South Africa for further info!

If you are interested in taking a car hire tour of South Africa, check out our South Africa Car Rental page.

Have you hired a car in South Africa before? Are there any driving tips that you want to share with other readers? Have we left out any important ‘rules of the road’?

Go on, share your experiences of driving in South Africa or if you’ve a question just drop us a line in the comment box below.