South Africa’s most dangerous roads

*Disclaimer, I did not get paid for this but I’ve been roadtripping so much this past week or so that I was contacted by David about writing a guest post revolving around the importance of car insurance due to our SA roads and we all know the issues I have had with insurance this past month… So I’ll let him have his say:

There are few South Africans who have been unaffected by the appalling state of the country’s roads. Construction works seem to be going on all the time and it’s common for traffic to come to a standstill because of works in progress and endless unexpected detours. Thousands are killed each year either through straight accidents or as a result of road rage resultant on the sheer frustration of simply trying to get around this chaotic network, and car insurance claims go through the roof.

Between Ermelo and Pongola, the N2 is generally reckoned to be the worst highway in South Africa, with far more potholes than others in a country far from short on them. The N2 like every other highway here is constantly being worked on, causing jams and delays, but the real frustration is sections that aren’t being attended to because they clearly need the attention, with some parts resembling a lunar landscape of deep pits and craters that could trash the sturdiest vehicle.

This highway also boasts the country’s worst drivers, especially the taxis, who routinely ignore signals and speed limits. It’s common here to encounter taxis going the wrong way against oncoming traffic and forcing other cars onto the gravel shoulders, although they do give way to the bigger trucks.

Piet Retief through road
Piet Retief probably has the worst road to pass through any town in South Africa, with potholes the size of elephant watering holes and entire sections ripped up. This is a great pity, because after coming from the blighted landscapes of Ermelo and Hendrina farther to the north the town itself is remarkably pretty. But the buckling tar, extensive rough patches and whole areas where the underlying sand protrudes through the badly-applied surface ruin the effect and the immediate instinct is simply to get out of there.

Beautiful as much of South Africa is, the carjacking crime rate is fairly astronomical and the roads in and around Johannesburg are a particular black spot for this. It has even reached the stage where many residents here attach portable flamethrowers to their cars to repel would-be attackers, and moreover it’s completely legal to do so.
Although most victim are not badly injured and there are a number of common sense steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of being carjacked, this is not a pleasant thing to happen and visitors to the city are encouraged to travel by taxi rather than rent their own car.

There are helpful road signs warning of carjacking hotspots, and doors should be kept locked from the second you get into your car. Drivers are warned not to even slow down if they see an accident, and cars sporting flashing blue lights might merely be decoys. At night, drivers faced with a red light have to weigh the chance of a fine for not stopping against the greater risk of being carjacked, and the majority choose to drive through.

About the guest writer: David Elliott is a freelance writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe and Turkey. He’s spent most of his adult life in a state of restless excitement but recently decided to settle in North London. He gets away whenever he can to immerse himself in foreign cultures and lap up the history of great cities.


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