For anyone coming from any major city visiting KZN there is a period of confusion about the traffic laws in the region. Although JHB has probably got the worst traffic in ZA, driving in KZN is a hair-raising experience for most outsiders. With this in mind here follows the KZN Survival Guide for traffic laws, hopefully clearing up some confusion and making driving in KZN a more pleasant experience.
Out of order traffic signals
Unlike the rest of the country where out-of-order traffic signals are four-way stops, KZN has a survival of the fittest process in place. It effectively means that whichever side of the road is able to push their vehicles across first, will become the majority and will keep flowing until traffic in another direction forces itself into the majority, again by pushing in a vehicle. Owners of off-road vehicles please note that this is the time the high repayments start to pay off, since most people would completely avoid hitting your high and bulky killing machine. Amazingly this system seems to work with the least amount of accidents, and albeit completely against the law, few traffic officials attempts to change this process.
Traffic circles is also treated in the same way as out-of-order traffic signals. This is extremely important when visiting places like Gateway and the Beach Front. To survive this process, bigger and more expensive vehicles seems the best form of offence and defence. It is also recommend to approach these intersections and circles at high-speed if possible to force the other traffic to come to a standstill and allowing right of way to the fastest driver.
Highway speed limits
Although the speed limit in KZN on highways are 120 km/h, most drivers explicitly follow an average speed of between 80 – 100 km/h. It is also highly recommended to stay in the fast lane as much as possible when doing this as there is no real need for this lane when adhering to the average speed limit. It is also important to note that most KZN drivers know where the speed cameras are and very often fast-moving vehicles will slow down to a 100 km/h in the 5-10 meters before approaching these cameras. Continuing to travel at 120 km/h+ is only recommended for the more well off citizens of KZN who can afford the speeding fine, or at 120 km/h knows that adhering to the actual speed limit will not cause the camera to take that dreaded picture of your license plate. It is important to note however fines for travelling faster than 130 km/h in KZN is quite steep so keep an eye on the speedometer when passing these cameras to make sure you can stand your case in court.
In most regions the law states that vehicles approaching a highway using an on ramp has right of way to the slow lane, and vehicles travelling on the highway are to move to the right or middle lanes. The KZN approach is again survival of the fittest, with vehicles on the on ramp reaching the highest possible speed in the allocated distance before joining the highway, where vehicles on the highway will continue to travel as normal, irrelevant of the lane being occupied. Here again the bigger and better the vehicle, the better the changes of survival.
Overtaking applies the same laws as the on ramps, with the general keep left pass right rule often being ignored for the preferred pass left keep right rule. This can clearly be seen with the new intercity bus lanes on the major highways into DBN where the lane is the lane next to the fast lane, allowing busses and taxis to cross across all 3 lanes to the off-ramp and in the process cutting of all traffic, forcing motorist to slow down upon entering the city centre.
Hopefully the above information will prove useful to some inspecting visitor to the region suddenly finding himself the centre of someone’s anger when trying to follow the well-known laws of the road.