Rules of the road in South Africa, part one

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Rules of the road in South Africa

The rules of the road for the K53 keep all road users safe. Following these rules also keeps you out of trouble with the law.

General rules of the road

The general rules of the road are as follows:

1. Police officers overrule any rule of the road.
2. Always drive on the left-hand side of any road and overtake on the right (golden rule!).
3. If you do not obey the rules of the road you are committing an offence and may be prosecuted.

When using driving signals

1. Signal your intention early enough to warn other road users.

You can signal by using indicators, brake lights and where necessary, hand signals.

2. Indicate before you brake.
3. Use indicators whenever you intend to turn or to move left or right into another lane.
4. When changing lanes always check the blind spot by looking over the appropriate shoulder.
5. After moving into a new lane or turning left or right, always cancel the indicator.

K53 Hand Signals Meanings

Study the below illustration on the K53 hand signals meanings and how to use them:

1. Stop – place your right arm outside of the drivers window pointing up.
2. Turning right – place your right hand outside of the driver’s window in a horizontal position.
3. Slowing down/braking – place your right hand outside of the driver’s window and wave it up and down in a controlled manner.
4. Turning left – place your right hand outside of the driver’s window and rotate your wrist in an anti-clockwise direction.

K53 Hand Signals Meanings

Seat belts

1. Seat belts must always be worn while driving a vehicle. They must be worn in the front and, if fitted, in the rear of the vehicle as well.
2. If there is no seat belt fitted for the front passenger seat then children 14 years of age and younger must sit in the rear of the vehicle.
3. If there are no seat belts in the vehicle, then the vehicle may not be used on a public road.
4. If there is a seat with a seat belt fitted then that seat belt must be worn.
5. You may unfasten your seat belt while parking or reversing.

Reckless and inconsiderate driving

1. Drive off from a stationary position only if it is safe to do so and without causing any danger to other traffic (remember defensive driving).
2. Do not deliberately disregard the safety of people or property when driving.
3. Do not drive recklessly or without consideration for other drivers on the road.

Emergency red triangle

1. At least one double-sided red triangle must be carried in all commercial vehicles.
2. In an emergency, the triangle must be displayed on the road at least 45 metres behind the vehicle facing oncoming traffic.

k53 defensive driving in practice

The use of lights

1. When driving between sunset and sunrise always switch your headlights on.
2.The beam must light up objects at least 100 metres ahead.
3. If visibility is not clear for at least 150m then your headlights must be switched on.
4. If there is traffic approaching and your brights are on, switch them to the dimmer beam so as not to affect the vision of other drivers.
5. Parking lights may be used in demarcated parking areas or if you have parked 12 metres or more from a street light.
6. Use the emergency warning lights (two flashing indicators) in an emergency only or when your vehicle is in a potentially hazardous position.

Alcohol and drugs

Do not drive or sit in the drivers seat while the engine of the vehicle is running if you are under the influence of drugs or  alcohol.

Use of roads and freeways

On a two-way road keep as far left as possible while still remaining in your lane so as not to obstruct oncoming traffic.

k53 keeping left

Divided roads

1. If a road is divided by an open space e.g. grass, an island or a painted divider then keep to the left of the road.
2. You may cross a division only at an opening or intersection where it is not prohibited by a traffic officer or road sign.

K53 divided roads

Speed limits

1. Non-urban roads:

  • Light motor vehicles (LMV) – 100km/h
  • Goods vehicles – 80km/h
  • Vehicles that weigh 9000kg or more – 80km/h

2. Urban roads:

  • 60km/h for all vehicles

3. Freeways:

  • Light motor vehicles – 120km/h
  • Vehicles 9000kg and more – 80km/h
  • Buses with passengers – 100km/h

Passing and overtaking

You may overtake a vehicle at any place on a road provided it is a two-lane road and that it is not prohibited by a road sign or a road marking. As follows…

1. When overtaking a vehicle in front of you:

  • Pass to the right of the vehicle but be aware of oncoming traffic and practice the defensive driving method.
  • Keep a safe distance from the vehicle you are overtaking.
  • Make sure you are safely clear of the vehicle you have overtaken before signalling to move back into the left hand lane.
  • When overtaking a stationary bus, be sure to be on the lookout for passengers leaving the bus.
K53 overtaking on the right

2. Overtaking on the left:

You may overtake the vehicle in front of you on the left when:

  • The driver in front of you has indicated to turn right.
  • The road is wide enough for you to do so and you do not obstruct the vehicle in front of you.
  • Provided you do not drive on the left verge or on the left shoulder of the road.
k53 overtaking on the left

3. Overtaking on a two-way road:

  • Don’t try to overtake on the right-hand side of the road if your view is restricted.
  • Never overtake on the right-hand side of the road when approaching the crest of a hill, a rise or a curve in the road.
  • Do not overtake across a solid white line.
  • Remember to never overtake when it is prohibited by a traffic sign, signal or road marking.
  • And lastly, you must not overtake at a scholar patrol or a pedestrian crossing.
k53 overtaking on a two-way road
  • Do not overtake across a solid white line.
k53 crossing a solid white line
  • Remember to never overtake when it is prohibited by a traffic sign, signal or road marking.
  • And lastly, you must not overtake at a scholar patrol or a pedestrian crossing.
k53 overtaking at a pedestrian crossing

Watch the video below on how to overtake correctly.

Turning right

  • Before turning right, keep close to the centre of the road you are on without touching the dividing line.
  • Keeping in the centre also allows vehicles behind you to pass by safely on your left.

Watch the video below on how to turn right.

For more on the rules of the road read the rules of the road 2, the rules of the road 3 or test your knowledge by doing the K53 rules of the road test.

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