Renting or hiring a car is a readily available choice in South Africa. Most major car rental companies have branches at the main airports and in the cities. South Africa boasts a well maintained road infrastructure unlike many African countries, so traveling by rental car allows for increased flexibility and freedom particularly considering the vast distances between some destinations.
South African Rules of the Road
Driving: South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road and pass on the right.
Cars: All cars are right hand drive – the steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car, gear shift is operated with the left hand.
Road signs: All signs are in English and speed limits and distance are displayed in kilometres (not miles). For reference, 1 mile = 1.61km / 1km = 0.62 miles.
Speed Limits (general rules):
1. 120km/h (approximately 75mph) on National highways, urban freeways and some other major routes.
2. 100km/h (approximately 62mph) on secondary and rural roads.
3. 60km/h (approximately 37mph) in towns and cities unless otherwise marked.
Seatbelts: Use of seatbelts is compulsory for the driver and all passengers.
Mobile Phones: Driving and using a mobile phone is illegal and will be met with a hefty fine unless you are using a hands free device.
Tolls/E-Tolls: There are toll roads in South Africa and as recently as a few weeks ago the rules changed as to how authorities will collect tolls moving forward. It is as yet unclear as to how the Car Rental companies will handle the new rules, it is imperative that you check with your Rental Car company when you book. We will provide more information per company as their procedures come to light.
Blood Alcohol Limit: Currently the blood alcohol limit in South Africa is 0.05g/100ml. As always however, it is recommended to avoid alcohol entirely if you plan to drive.
Accidents: Always report traffic incidents to the police immediately.
General Car Rental Guidelines for South Africa
Drivers License: A valid drivers license is required, and it must have the driver’s photograph and signature. If a license is non-English, an International drivers license will also be required however some Car Rental companies MAY require an International Drivers License from all holders of a foreign license even if it is in English. Always double check with your Rental Car company prior to departure.
In general the renter must have had his or her license for at least 5 years. Some companies may allow less experienced drivers to rent or be additional drivers usually for an additional fee and/or with the purchase of additional insurance.
Additional drivers must be identified and provide licenses when the car is rented.
Cars can usually be picked up at one branch and dropped at another, additional fees may apply.
Car rental agencies generally accept all major credit cards.
It is wise to purchase maximum insurance for your car.
General Safety Advice
South Africa has a high rate of car accidents so be sure to drive defensively and be aware. Watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, aggressive taxi/bus drivers, livestock, and wild animals particularly when driving in rural areas.
Never feed wild animals – not only is it dangerous, it will incur a heavy fine.
Do not stop to pick up hitchhikers or assist cars pulled over.
Keep your doors locked and windows up when driving in towns and cities.
Never leave valuables visible in a parked car. Always lock your doors.
Be sure to review procedures and paperwork pertaining to accidents/roadside assistance from the car rental company.
Renting a car in South Africa can provide the traveler with opportunities to further explore this amazing country. Be cautious, be vigilant, be safe.