Driving in South Africa

The top ten things to know about driving in South Africa are:

  • Driving is on the left hand side of the road! And steering wheels are on the right hand side of the car.
  • The roads are good! You’ll enjoy driving on our tarmac. Smooth, baby.
  • Buckle up, and lock up! Our roads may be good, but our drivers are nothing to write home about, and car hijackings are, erm, not unknown. Be safe.
  • Automatics are scarce! Stick shift is standard in nearly all SA cars. You can, however, find automatics via the larger rental car agencies; see Hiring a Car in SA.


  • Petrol stations are full-service! Tip R2-R5 per stop.
  • Know your petrol! Most post-1993 vehicle models take unleaded, and most earlier take “lead replacement” (now that leaded petrol is outlawed), but there are a few gray areas, overlaps, etc. Check this before you fill up (click here for fuel compatability database).
  • Road signs are in kilometers! Like those in the rest of the world, except a few non-metric rogue states.
  • Roundabouts are common! Traffic in roundabouts usually has right of way. Fearful of roundabouts? Here are three fun demos for navigating them: 2Pass | Sammamish
  • Best street map service: Ananzi. An SA Blog favorite. Covers most SA urban areas.
  • Traffic cameras are everywhere! Notice the behavior of other drivers around you: if they’re slowing down, it’s probably because of an upcoming speed camera. There are lots of cameras to catch those who jump red stoplights, too.