How To Drive In South Africa

In light of the looming world cup and all the tourists we’re supposed to be expecting, I was watching the cars in my to-work and back-home traffic the other day, and I wondered how a tourist- unused to our roads- would handle it. Especially since the traffic may well get even more complicated around stadiums and city centres during the world cup itself.

I thought I’d republish a series of posts I wrote here, and try and help them out.


Lesson # 1

Don’t concern yourself with piddly little things like indicators!

They’re only there to go on and off when you lock and unlock your car remotely or to flicker prettily when you’re at a party and playing your music really loudly!

And your emergency flickers are there for when you’re in a hurry and you need to skip a bunch of robots and or stop streets!


Lesson # 2

Don’t worry your pretty little head about something as trivial as stopping at a red light.

When the opposite robot (traffic light for any non-South Africans) goes orange- that’s when you put your foot down, thereby really pissing off the people in oncoming traffic who are still going like bats out of hell despite the fact that they should be stopped or stopping.


Lesson # 3


For this lesson you will have to master the art of slowly crossing the intersection and then putting your foot down when there’s half a gap in the oncoming traffic. Don’t worry about whether you’re crossing at a stop street or a robot, it doesn’t matter… and don’t worry about what colour the robot is either!


Lesson # 4

This one is possibly the easiest lesson of the lot… a “wave”.

No- not a Mexican wave- or even a royal wave- just a regular wave. Its surprisingly simple, in this country, a wave makes everything A-O-K… everyone from bus drivers and taxi drivers to regular motorists and cyclists use the wave when they… well lets just say you can do what you like as long as you wave at the person you just offended.


Lesson # 5

Don’t trouble yourself with things like following distances- if you think you can fit, go for it! And even if you can’t actually fit, the person you’re pushing in front of will probably brake to let you in rather than hit you!

You may actually get where you want to go a full 2.5 seconds earlier than if you stick to the rules!


Lesson # 6

Plead ignorance… and if you drive in South Africa then I’m sure you’ve come across this more than once.

This is probably the easiest way to get away with road-hogging and its amazingly simple- what it boils down to, is simply not looking at the person you just hogged. This is achieved by pretending you have a blind spot the size of a basketball in ALL your mirrors at the same time.


NB: An advanced technique is combining any of these with #4- the wave- if you do happen to glance at the person and accidentally catch their eye.


Can you think of any more?

7 thoughts on “How To Drive In South Africa

  1. Wow! I thought traffic was crazy when I first moved to Everett, where the green light means ‘STOP!’ (Luckily I live just outside of Everett, and that doesn’t seem to happen much here.)

    And I’ve never heard of calling traffic lights ‘robots’. Sounds kind of futuristic to me!
    .-= S E E Quine´s last blog ..Lucas is FINALLY A MOVIE STAR! =-.

  2. Those hazard lights are also there when you decide to stop for no reason at a place when no one in their right mind with any common sense would stop. Of course you don’t dare put them on before you stop, only once you have jumped on the brakes and actually stopped. 😛
    .-= Sharon´s last blog ..Spectacular Pretoria Sunsets =-.

  3. Just hoot if you are going to jump a red traffic light – somehow that makes it fine.

    But I do think our traffic is not so bad – gosh Rome! I have never seen such a disregard of rules. And the French are not much better. I also beleive that in Dubai not a soul actually knows how to drive.

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