Whether you live in South Africa or are just visiting, a road trip across our scenic country at some point in your life is a must. From the beautiful shorelines of the Western Cape to the glorious Garden Route, a road trip through South Africa can be truly mesmerising. However, unfortunately it is not the safest country in the world, so you may need to read up about crime in the areas you’ll be driving to and be prepared for anything. We have researched and formulated some safety tips for driving through South Africa, so if you’re planning a road trip for the holidays, use these 10 helpful driving tips for a South African road trip to make it safe and enjoyable.
- Reasonably Priced Car Rental
- Fill The Tank
- Don’t Stop For Anyone
- Lock The Doors And Keep Windows Closed
- Try To Avoid Driving At Night
- Watch Out For Potholes
- Pay The Car Guards
- Take A Cooler Box With
- Be Sure To Have A Good Map
- Watch Out For Wildlife
1. Reasonably Priced Car Rental
If you’re using a rented car for your road trip, you must make sure to use a reliable vehicle. Instead of choosing a luxury 4×4, you’ll want to keep a lower profile car. This will also ensure that you don’t spend too much money on rental and insurance fees, as fancier cars tend to have an added risk. This doesn’t mean you have to hire an unreliable or cheap car, but make a smart choice. Instead of BMW X6 or an Audi A4, you could go for the Ford Ecosport or something alike.
2. Fill The Tank
Running out of petrol can be frustrating and dangerous. It’s important to keep a close eye on your tank and always stop to top up whenever you see a petrol station. Even if the GPS says there is a station 100 km away, it might not be an exact reading and could be further away than anticipated. You don’t want to end up stuck on the big roads without petrol when it could have been avoided by stopping to fill up earlier on.
3. Don’t Stop For Anyone
You may feel as though you’re doing someone a favour by stopping and offering assistance to a stranded motorist, or picking up a hitchhiker, but it’s not safe. If you talk to anyone before your trip, they will likely tell you that there have been several scams in the past targeting unsuspecting South African drivers.
Often, a person will pretend to be injured and sit in the middle of the road while others act as though their car has broken down. Also, these people often have friends hiding in bushes close by; they will jump out the moment you slow down to try and help them. South Africa is known for hijackings, so don’t let it happen to you when you least expect it.
4. Lock The Doors And Keep Windows Closed
Don’t forget to keep your car doors locked and the windows up to keep your vehicle from being a target for a robbery or hijacking. The risk is even higher when stopping at a red robot or stop sign. Also, it’s important to remember to lock the doors when leaving your car. If you have the windows open while driving to enjoy the beautiful scenery on the open road, remember to close them when heading into a town or city on your road trip.
5. Try To Avoid Driving At Night
When planning your road trip, work out how long it will take for you to reach your destination. You’ll want to leave early enough to avoid arriving in the dark. Being on the road in South Africa at night can be quite dangerous in some areas.
While hijacking isn’t common during the day, stay focused and vigilant. For instance, it’s better to slow down in advance when you see a red light in the distance so that it’s green by the time you reach it. This will allow you to avoid standing still at a traffic light for longer than necessary.
6. Watch Out For Potholes
Most of the main national roads and highways throughout South Africa are in working or driving order. However, many roads leading into small towns and villages are usually not looked after. Potholes are popular in these areas, and they’re usually a lot bigger than you would expect. If you hit one, there may not be a shoulder to pull onto, making it more dangerous.
In some areas, people walk along the road, so there is nowhere to go except over the potholes. If you have to drive over these sorts of roads, it’s best to drive slowly and carefully manoeuvre around or through the potholes.
7. Pay The Car Guards
Whenever you go to a shop, restaurant, mall, or anywhere of the like, you will see car guards wearing neon yellow vests. They will probably greet you and ask if they should watch your car. They have the job of keeping an eye on your car while you’re away, making sure that it doesn’t get stolen or damaged. These people don’t earn a lot, but they will greatly appreciate a tip for watching your car.
8. Take A Cooler Box With
It’s a good idea to have a supply of food and water for the trip, not only to snack on while driving, but also in case of a breakdown, or if you get lost and the trip takes a bit longer than expected. A cooler box will enable you to keep food cold while on the road. You could pack chicken, fruits, vegetables, and whatever else you feel like nibbling on. Don’t forget an adequate amount of water too.
9. Be Sure To Have A Good Map
There are many routes to take through South Africa. Having a trusted map means you can drive the most scenic and fastest routes from A to B, and you won’t get lost. Nowadays, most people use Google Maps or another app for navigation. These work well, but don’t always take you on the most scenic routes. It’s best to do some additional research about the route before you head off.
10. Watch Out For Wildlife
Livestock and wildlife often roam on desolate roads. Be careful when driving as you wouldn’t want to put yourself or the animal in harm’s way on the way to your destination. Look out for road signs signalling areas where animals are likely to be roaming the streets.
There you have it. If you stick to these tips while on your South African Road trip, you are assured of arriving safely with no hiccups. Another thing to keep in mind for your road trip is practising defensive driving. This means avoiding drinking and driving, driving when tired or drowsy, keeping a distance of about 3 cars between yourself and the car in front of you, driving carefully if you’re driving in bad weather, and avoiding confrontations with other road users.
Lastly, you should remember to take breaks every few hours. Although it may not feel necessary, you must break your concentration now and then, even if that means sharing the driving responsibilities with another family member or friend on the trip with you.
Before you drive off on your travels, think about arriving back to a clean home. With SweepSouth, you can book a home clean service anytime before your trip, meaning you won’t have to step into an untidy home after a long drive.