Last week, we discussed how to prepare for a South African road trip, focusing on vehicle maintenance and essential items to pack. However, the road itself presents unique challenges, and even the most thorough preparation can't always mitigate these risks. In this comprehensive guide, we delve deeper into common dangers encountered on South African roads and offer detailed strategies to navigate them safely.

The Unpredictable Road: Understanding and Managing Dangers

  1. Tyre Blowouts: A sudden tyre blowout is a driver's nightmare but can be managed with calm and precise actions:
  • Steady Control: Firmly hold the steering wheel to maintain direction.
  • Avoid Braking Abruptly: Sudden braking can cause a loss of control. Instead, gently ease off the accelerator.
  • Signal and Move to Safety: Once your speed is reduced, use your indicators and move to the side of the road. Remember, safety comes first, so ensure you’re in a safe location before inspecting the damage.


  1. Animals on the Road: In rural South Africa, encountering animals on the road is a common occurrence:
  • Expect the Unexpected: Animals can be unpredictable. Be especially vigilant in areas with wildlife warning signs.
  • Night Driving: Animals are harder to spot at night. Reduce speed and use high beams when safe to do so.
  • Larger Animals: For larger animals, braking firmly is often safer than swerving. In cases where swerving is unavoidable, do so with caution, ensuring you’re aware of surrounding traffic.


  1. Potholes: Potholes pose a significant risk, especially on lesser-maintained roads:
  • Visual Scanning: Continuously scan the road ahead for any irregularities.
  • Speed Management: Reducing speed in areas known for potholes can prevent severe vehicle damage and loss of control.
  • Post-Pothole Inspection: If you hit a pothole, assess your vehicle for any immediate damage that may need attention.


  1. Stop-and-Goes and Construction Zones: These areas require heightened awareness and patience:
  • Adherence to Signage: Pay close attention to road signs indicating changes in traffic patterns or speed limits.
  • Respect Construction Workers: Their safety is as important as yours. Follow guidelines and be prepared for sudden stops.


  1. Severe Rainstorms and Wet Roads: Navigating wet roads requires a change in driving style:
  • Tyre Tread Depth: Ensure your tyres are in good condition. Worn tyres significantly reduce traction on wet roads.
  • Hydroplaning Awareness: If you feel your car hydroplaning (sliding uncontrollably on the wet surface), gently lift off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want to go. Avoid harsh braking or sharp steering movements.
  • Flooded Roads: Avoid driving through flooded areas. It's challenging to judge the depth, and it takes surprisingly little water to sweep a car away.


  1. Other Vehicles: Dealing with erratic drivers is a crucial skill:
  • Defensive Driving: Always assume other drivers may make sudden moves. Keep a safe distance and be ready to react.
  • Overtaking Safely: When overtaking, especially on single-lane roads, ensure you have a clear view of the oncoming traffic and enough space to return to your lane safely.
  • Being Overtaken: If another vehicle is overtaking you, maintain your speed or slow down slightly to help them pass safely.


  1. Spikes and blockades: These are set up by criminals to force motorists to stop, making them vulnerable to attacks or robberies. Here are some strategies to help you deal with such scenarios:
  • Stay Vigilant: Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when driving in areas known for criminal activity or at times when roads are less busy.
  • Avoid Suspicious Objects: If you see objects that look like spikes or blockades (like metal rods, nails, or tree branches), try to avoid them safely. If it's impossible to avoid them without risking an accident, slow down as much as possible before making contact to reduce the potential damage.
  • Do Not Stop in Unsafe Areas: If your vehicle is hit by spikes and you can still drive, try to get to a safe, populated area before stopping, even if it means driving on a flat tyre. Stopping in a secluded area puts you at a higher risk of being attacked.
  • Call for Help: When it's safe to do so, call the police or emergency services immediately. Provide them with your location and a description of the situation.
  • Stay Inside Your Vehicle if Possible: If you have to stop and are waiting for help, stay inside your locked vehicle. Your car offers more protection and makes it harder for attackers to reach you.
  • Be Prepared for Emergencies: Always have your phone charged and within reach. Consider carrying a safety tool like a tyre inflator or a puncture repair kit that might allow you to move your vehicle to a safer location.
  • Plan Your Route: If possible, plan your route to avoid high-risk areas, especially when traveling at night or alone.
  • Travel in Groups: There's safety in numbers. If possible, travel with others, especially in areas where road spike attacks are a concern.


  1. Rock throwing: This is another strategy used by criminals which we unfortunately also have to contend with.
  • Awareness in High-Risk Areas: Be extra vigilant when driving under bridges, especially in areas known for such criminal activities. Keep an eye out for any movement or individuals on the bridge.
  • Maintain a Safe Speed: While it's important to keep moving, maintaining a safe speed allows you more time to react if you spot something suspicious.
  • Use the Middle Lane: If available, drive in the middle lane when going under bridges. This position might offer more reaction time and distance from potential threats coming from the sides of the road. It also allows you to swerve into a different line if you the threat is from above.
  • Do Not Stop: If something hits your vehicle, do not stop immediately, especially if you're in an isolated or unsafe area. Continue to a safe, well-lit, and populated area before stopping to assess any damage.


Remember, your primary goal is to protect yourself and your passengers. Stopping or confronting the attackers can escalate the situation and increase the danger.

Proactive Safety: Beyond Driving Skills 

Regular Vehicle Checks: Frequent checks of brakes, tyres, and lights can prevent many on-road issues.

Road Awareness: Stay informed about the conditions of the routes you plan to travel. Local news, traffic apps, and community forums can provide real-time updates.

Emergency Kit: Ensure your emergency kit is well-stocked with items like a first-aid kit, flashlight, reflective warning signs, and basic tools.

Driver Fatigue: Long drives can be exhausting. Take regular breaks to rest and refresh. If you feel drowsy, it’s crucial to stop and rest.

Insurance and Roadside Assistance: Ensure your insurance is up-to-date and consider roadside assistance services for added peace of mind.


In Conclusion: Safety as a Journey, Not a Destination

Understanding and anticipating the challenges of South African roads is key to a safe and enjoyable journey. By combining good vehicle maintenance, as discussed in our previous article, with defensive driving techniques and a proactive approach to road safety, you can greatly reduce the risks associated with road travel. Stay alert, stay informed, and enjoy the diverse and beautiful landscapes South Africa has to offer. Safe travels!

As we draw closer to the end of the year, this article marks my final post for the season. On behalf of myself and the entyre team at Start My Car, we wish you a safe and festive holiday season. May your travels be filled with joy, your gatherings warm, and your roads safe.

Remember, our online store at remains open throughout the festive period, ready to assist you with any car spares and accessories you might need. So, no matter where you are in South Africa, if you find yourself in need of any vehicle parts, we've got you covered.


Here's to a fantastic end to the year, and looking forward to reconnecting in the new year with more insights, advice, and stories. Until then, drive safely, cherish your loved ones, and enjoy every moment of your holiday adventures.


Happy Holidays!