- Safety laws are more strict. If you head to South Africa any time soon, you better be ready to completely surrender your phone while on the road! Hand-held phones are not allowed under any circumstances while driving. Blood alcohol levels are also more strict: in the U.S. the maximum level is 0.8 percent, but in South Africa it’s 0.5 percent.
- Be on the defense. Perhaps the laws are more strict because the roads can be pretty crazy! In South Africa, there is a high rate of traffic accidents, so drivers are always on the defense. Taxi and bus drivers can also cause more chaos on the road (similar to NYC!) and in rural areas, chickens, horses or cows might pop up on the road!
- The roads are full of “robots.” One funny thing that could get lost in translation is the word “robot.” In South Africa, they call traffic lights “robots,” so don’t be alarmed if someone tells you to look out for “the next robot.”
- Another hazard: Antelope. Here’s one thing we don’t have to worry about in the United States: antelope crossings! Antelope are quite common in South Africa, so you may find “antelope crossing” signs in certain areas. When you see those signs, take extra precautions!
- Road tripping. South Africa has advanced, well developed road infrastructure, so you can easily travel long distances between cities and towns. However, South Africa is a very large country, so plan your trips wisely and make sure to stop for rest!
- Thieves can be tricky. When driving in South Africa, always keep your windows rolled up and don’t stop to talk to strangers…thieves there have been known to come up with all kinds of excuses to get you to stop so they can rob you! It’s a sad situation, but you’ll have to be very cautious about talking to strangers. One common ploy for thieves is to put large rocks in the road to try to get you to stop!
- A different kind of garage. If you hear South Africans talking about garages, you might get confused. They actually call fuel stations “garages,” and unlike most American stations, they are not self-help! So sit tight and wait for an attendant to come to your car to fill up!
- Keep it Euro-style. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, driving in South Africa has similarities to Europe. People drive on the right hand side of the car and remain in the left lane, then pass in the right lane. Distances and speed limits are measured in kilometers, so you may need to take a minute to translate while on the road!
I’ve covered what it’s like to drive in China, Australia, and Russia. So now let’s move on to a new continent: Africa! I picked South Africa to research specifically, and driving may differ vastly from country to country in Africa. But in South Africa, much of the driving culture is similar to European countries in many ways. Read on to learn more about this fascinating place!