Road Safety Advice for foreigners driving in South Africa
All measurements use the metric system; distances on road signs are in kilometers (1 mile = 1.6 km) and fuel is sold by the liter (1 US gallon = 3.8 liters).
To acquire a car in South Africa there are basically three options, you can hire a car, buy one or use the so-called buy-back option. Hiring a car is fairly easy and bookings can be made online and in all major cities. Buying a car takes a bit more work (Roadworthy license, registering the car, insurance), but there is a lively used car market in South Africa. The third option is a combination of both, as you buy a car with a guarantee that the rental company will buy-back your car at the end of the contract.
Most cars in South Africa have manual transmissions and the selection of second-hand automatics may be limited.
Rules of the Road
1.) Road traffic in South Africa (and its neighboring countries) drives on the left.
2.) Make sure you understand the South African road signs.
3.) A special kind of crossing is the 'four way stop' where the car that stops first has right of way.
You will not encounter many traffic circles, but when you do, take special care since the general attitude of South African drivers is that traffic circles do not constitute a traffic management roadway structure. They do not use their indicators in a safe and predictable fashion, if at all.
In general, South Africans tend to ignore speed limits. They are prone to selfish or aggressive driving behavior, such as tailgating and hooting. On multi-lane roadways, the principle of keep-left, pass right, is often not adhered to. In fact, generally speaking, many South African drivers tend to disregard road rules altogether.
Left (or right) turns on red at traffic lights are illegal (they seem to be a US phenomenon?). You will, however, find traffic lights and 'four way stops' that have an accompanying yield sign explicitly permitting a left turn.
The wearing of seat belts is compulsory. The front seat occupants of a car are required to wear seat belts while traveling, and for your own safety it is recommended that those in the rear seats do so as well. If you are caught without you will be subject to a fine.