General road conditions in South Africa

South Africa drives on the left, and road conditions are generally very good throughout the country. The speed limit is 120 km/h on freeways outside towns. be sure to watch road signs to see the speed limit otherwise, you will be stopped by traffic officers or caught by a speeding camera. There are paved highways and secondary roads between all the major towns, and a network of gravel roads connecting rural areas. The paved roads aren’t always perfect, however, and some sections can be badly potholed. Particularly bad sections are usually signposted so keep an eye out for ‘slaggate’ – the word for potholes in Afrikaans. Also, keep a lookout for people and livestock, especially on the dirt roads of the Wild Coast and in rural KwaZulu-Natal. Drive cautiously on gravel regardless of the type of vehicle you’re driving. Providing you drive slowly, even regular cars will be fine on most dirt roads.

Read our guide on drinking and driving laws and safety in South Africa.


What do tourists need to drive in South Africa?

If you plan to hire a car most car rental companies will require you to have a valid driver’s license in your home country and an International Driving Permit (IDP). Certain foreign driving licenses ay not be covered in the event of an accident which is why most car hire companies will require you to present an IDP.

If you will be in South Africa long term and will be buying or driving a friend’s car, you only require a valid Driver’s License which is in English which has your picture, which can be used to identify you. You can use your foreign driver’s license for up to a year of your arrival date. If your driver’s license is not in English, you will need to obtain an International Drivers License. You must carry your driving license with you at all times if you are driving.

Most car hire companies require you to have had a driver’s license for a specific amount of time before you can hire a car (generally around 3 years).

If you will be driving around the country, keep a lookout for these 10 funny road sign on South African roads.

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Here are interesting things to do around South Africa: