South Africa’s Drivers


In really boring and over-regulated countries, such as Little Britain (as opposed to Great Britain which ceased to exist decades ago), Germany and many others (but not including those where they drink a lot of really strong coffee like Greece, Italy and Turkey), people drive very well. As in responsibly.

We don’t have that problem here in South Africa.

It is an indisputable fact that, in Durban, everybody drives very slowly and badly, except for those spiky-haired boys who wear Ferrari jackets over their Manchester United jerseys and drive black VW Golfs. With tinted windows. They drive really fast. and very, very badly.

In Cape Town, everybody stares zennishly at The Mountain while they drive, even when they are pointed away from The Mountain. Enough said.

In Jo’burg, people take South African driving to another level altogether.

With the help of Awesome SA’s pretty damn interesting Awesome South Africa book, let’s squeeze our eyes tightly shut, hope for the best and inspect Johannesburg’s “Rules of the Road”.

1. Indicators will give away your next move. A real Jozi motorist never uses them.

2. On average, at least three cars can still get through an intersection after the robot (traffic light) has turned red. It’s the people who don’t adhere to this basic principle who cause traffic jams.

3. Never, ever come to a complete stop at a stop sign. No one expects it and you’ll get bashed into from behind.

4. Under no circumstances should you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front. That space will be filled by two Golfs (driven by spiky-haired boys from Durban), a BMW and a minibus taxi, putting you in an even more dangerous situation.

5. The faster you drive through a red light, the less chance you have of getting hit.

PS: When a new, and as yet untrashed, car is bought in South Africa, the owner automatically assumes the right to be king of the road and is justified in expecting that every other driver will be so impressed that they will hang back and admire the shiny, new vehicle, thereby giving the proud new owner absolute right of way…

Beautiful. Follow those basic rules and you’ll be just fine. And nobody can accuse you of being as boring as the Brits.

Fred Hatman
Fred Hatman (AKA Howard Donaldson) knew he wanted to be newspaper journalist at age 13. He has worked as a reporter and sub-editor for the Daily News and Cape Times, both based in South Africa and Wimbledon News, Today, London Daily News, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror, all based in London .
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