If you plan to have a road trip through South Africa, go for it! Roads are in good shape and well maintained. So, there is no wonder that people who have gone this route before testify that it is a piece of cake. However, in rural areas, drivers often face a challenge; this is due to the high crime rate in such areas. As such, it is always crucial to be prepared to face more than simply traffic hazards.
However, other than these issues, you will enjoy the time of your life. South Africa has a lot to offer that nobody should miss out on. With the right tips on hand and some preparation, your road trip will be seamless.
Wondering what exactly you can do to prepare for a road trip in South Africa? Without wasting much of your time, here are some road safety tips to keep in mind when venturing through South Africa on a road trip.
Maneuvering Through South Africa’s Roads
Overtaking other cars is one of the issues facing many drivers not only in South Africa but in Africa at large. Don’t be alarmed if this happens to you, just remain cautious. Always check your rear-view mirrors and be careful on blind spots. Don’t fight for a place on the road, if someone wants to overtake, let them do so.
You will also spot a lot of minibusses, it’s one of the easiest ways to move around South Africa. However, they too have a hazardous potential for causing many accidents within the country. This is mostly because of overloading and avoiding traffic rules. If you don’t want to use minibusses, opt for metered taxis, or Uber, they are much safer.
You are likely not going to find road signs and markings on most rural roads. This means that your map might not be that accurate in rural areas, or you might find something different than what you expected. On that note, always do research and know exactly where you are going. Also, watch out for pedestrians and school children crossing the roads.
It is also common to see cows and hens crossing roads, especially in rural areas. This is because very few farmers fence their livestock in. Whereas this might not be a big issue, it’s a potential death trap, especially if you are driving at night on roads that are not well lit. Hitting a cow with your car could very easily total it.
Watch Out For Wildlife
Wildlife is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country; It could be the reason why you are visiting. If you plan on driving through the many game parks keep these tips in mind.
You probably know that these animals are not tamed, and they are always wandering freely. As such, if one feels threatened, they can become dangerous; this can turn into a nasty situation for you. Also, avoid driving late at night or very early in the morning. This is because it is the animal's time to feed. If you must go out at this time, be sure to be in the company with a qualified guide.
If any animal crosses your path, don’t hoot or make any alarming noise; instead, stop, switch off your car, and let it pass in peace. In addition, turn down the music volume and always keep your windows rolled up. If, in any case, an animal lingers for a long time and poses a potential threat, you can call the emergency number (10111) for assistance. However, there is no need to panic; the animals will likely walk off after they assess the situation.
Lastly, this tip can never be emphasized enough: never feed animals. This might put you in danger. For instance, monkeys often get attracted to bananas and tend to become aggressive if not given enough. As such, avoid feeding them altogether.
Avoiding Roadside Crimes
There is no doubt that South Africa is beautiful, but there are also criminal activities within the country. Here are a few tips to keep you safe while you are behind the wheel.
You should never put your windows down. Also, keep valuables such as laptops, cameras entirely out of sight. Be sure to check whether your windows are up and always park in designated places that are safeguarded if you must step out of your car. If you can’t find any, select a busy, well-lit area.
In case of an emergency, maybe a tire burst, park as far from the road as possible and put your hazard lights on. If you rented your car, call the rental company; they probably have road-side assistance. Be sure to lock yourself in the car with your windows up.
Always have police numbers on hand in case of an accident or collision. In fact, if this happens, stay in your car as you wait for the police to arrive. Some crafty beings are known for intentionally causing collisions to rob the victims once they pull over, do not fall for this scheme. Alternatively, you can ask the other party to follow you to the police where the matter can be solved amicably.
Avoid offering help to other road users. Some of these people are criminals looking for every opportunity to rob you. However, you can signal them to call the police but never step out of the car to help. However much you want to help, it is not worth the risk as a tourist.
Further, if you are driving in big cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg, or Pretoria, always be alert while at traffic lights. Keep an eye on your rear mirrors and watch for any suspicious individuals approaching, never roll down your window while stopped for any reason.
Kids will offer to clean your clean, always wave them away. If not, they can demand money for their “services.” If you don’t oblige, the situation can turn rowdy, and you don’t want to be part of this. In case of any verbal abuse or damage to your car, report them as this is considered illegal.
South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, with its winding roads and breathtaking scenery. However, don’t take our word for it; you will need to watch out and be very careful while driving through these roads. Otherwise, you will curse the day you ever set foot in this country. We wish you a safe journey! Remember these tips when you are heading out on the road.