Anyone who wants to get their driver’s license will need to know the road signs in South Africa. Not only for the safety of other road users but also because knowledge of the road signs is integral to getting a learner’s license.
However, even if you are not taking a learner’s license test, as a seasoned driver, you may have forgotten some of the more obscure road signs and need a refresher. Therefore, this guide on road signs in South Africa with their meaning will help you on your journey.
When you’re on the road, you may see or use the following hand signals. All of these hand signals need to be completed by the driver out of the driver’s side window. However, you cannot use any of the hand signals on a highway unless it’s an emergency.
To signal that you’re stopping, put your hand out of the window with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle and your fingers facing upward.
Place your arm out of the window in a horizontal position, with your palms facing forward.
Put your arm out of the window with your arm bent downward and your hand facing downward. If you’re on a motorcycle, you will only need to put your left hand out.
You may see guide signs on highways and main roads. These signs are there to give information regarding the route and direction in addition to giving guidance about distance and direction to amenities, points of interest, suburbs, or cities.
For example, you may see a sign directing you to a city with the distance in kilometres next to the city.
The purpose of regulatory signs is to control traffic flow in addition to actions drivers should and should not take; they give direction on a driver’s legal obligation regarding parking, driving, and prohibited actions. Because of this, these regulatory signs are divided into six categories:
- Control signs
- Command signs
- Prohibition signs
- Comprehensive signs
- Reservation and parking reservation signs
- Selective restriction signs
Control signs are some of the most common regulatory signs and include:
- Stop Signs: These signs show you when stopping is necessary and include the five main types of stop signs. Stop, double stop, and stop (person turning left yields or gives way), 3-way stop, 4-way stop.
- Yield Signs: These signs are meant to show whether you must yield and for what you would need to yield. These signs are usually red and white with a triangular shape and include the classic yield sign, yield and giveaway to a pedestrian, yield or giveaway at a roundabout, and yield and giveaway to oncoming traffic.
- No Entry: This is a large red circular sign with a white line in the middle. It prohibits entry to a road or destination.
- Priority Zone: Whenever you see a man in the middle of a red diamond square, that means that the zone you’re in is a pedestrian priority zone.
- One-Way Zone: An arrow in a red rectangle shows you the direction in which you should travel down a one-way road.
Command signs are blue and white in colour and circular in shape. These signs tell you what you have to do or what is allowed in a specific zone. Some of these command signs are obscure; however many are rather common. These include:
- Cyclist and Pedestrians Only: This sign shows that only pedestrians and cyclists are allowed in a specific zone. The side the pedestrian or cyclist is on coincides with the lanes pedestrians and cyclists should be on.
- Pedestrians Only: Only pedestrians should be allowed in this zone.
- Motorcycles Only: Only motorcycles are allowed in this zone.
- Buses Only: The sign includes an image of a bus and shows that only buses are allowed in a specific zone.
- Cyclists Only: You may see this sign in a cycle lane and reveal that every other type of transportation is prohibited.
- Delivery Vehicles Only: If you see a sign with a bakkie with two boxes on top, that shows that only delivery vehicles are allowed in that zone.
- Goods Vehicles Exceeding 3500kg Only: An image with a truck reveals that only good delivery vehicles exceeding 3,500kg are allowed.
- Goods Vehicles Exceed 10 Tonnes Only: An image with a truck with three wheels and 10T on the truck shows that only goods vehicles over 10 tonnes are allowed.
- Keep a Minimum Speed: If you see a blue circular sign with a double-digit on it, but no letter means you have to keep a minimum speed of that km/h.
There are 40 command signs in total. Which include roundabout signs, tram only signs, and keep left signs.
Many of these signs will be red and include a line drawn through the middle, prohibiting certain types of vehicles, manoeuvre, or activities. There are 40 prohibition signs, which include:
- Hawkers Prohibited: If you see a sign with a person and a table with an umbrella with a line drawn through the middle, this means hawkers are prohibited. Any hawking could lead to a fine.
- Right Turn Prohibited: An arrow pointing right, w
- Parking Prohibited: Any red sign with a capital p and a line drawn through the middle means parking is prohibited.
- Stopping Prohibited Any red sign with a capital s and a line drawn through the middle means stopping is prohibited.
- Taxis Prohibited: This sign refers to metered taxis and services like Uber and Bolt. The sign will include a forward-facing car with a box on top.
- Overtaking Prohibited: If you see a sign with two cars side-by-side and a line drawn through it, this means that overtaking is prohibited in those zones.
- U-Turn Prohibited: An upside-down U with an arrow at the end and a line drawn through it means that making a U-Turn is prohibited.
These signs may refer to a lane or a parking spot and show that the space is allocated for a specific vehicle or driver. If you don’t meet the criteria for the driver or vehicle shown, you could receive a fine. You can discover some of the reservation signs below:
- Reserved Lane for Buses: This blue, rectangular sign with a graphic of a bus and a yellow line beside the bus indicates that the lane is reserved for buses.
- Reserved Lane for Bicycles: You’ll find this sign in bicycle lanes. Like other reservation signs, it’s also blue, white, and rectangular and will have a capital r beneath a bicycle.
- Reserved Lane for Ambulances and Emergency Vehicles: The capital r beneath what looks like a minibus taxi with a capital A on the vehicle means that the space is reserved for ambulances and emergency vehicles.
- Reserved for Vehicles with Disabled Passengers: A capital R beneath a wheelchair means that space is reserved for vehicles containing disabled passengers.
- Reserved for Police Vehicles: The police badge on top of a capital R means that space is reserved for police vehicles.
It’s important to note that not only could you receive a fine, but using these spaces could cause harm or injury to those the spaces are reserved for or could damage your vehicle.
These signs don’t carry any regulatory punishment but do show that danger lurks ahead and that you should be aware and cautious. There are several warning signs for learner drivers to study. Some of them include:
Unprotected Jetty Edge
The sign that depicts a car falling into the water means that you are nearing an unprotected jetty edge. This means that if you are not cautious, your vehicle could end up in the water.
If you see a sign with what appears to be a child and parent holding hands, this means that there are children ahead, and you should drive cautiously to avoid causing an accident.
This rectangular, red, black, and white sign with a cross in the middle means that you are approaching a crossroad and should be vigilant.
High Accident Zone
The words “high accident zone” will be legible on this sign and means that you should be aware that you are in a zone where accidents frequently occur.
You may see an exclamation point with the word baboons beneath it or see a graphic of a baboon. This sign is an attempt to warn you to be cautious when driving as baboons may be crossing the road and can cause accidents.
Any sign on the side of the road with the term “slow” in capital letters is warning you to slow down. There could be construction, a steep curve, or several other factors that could put you in danger if you are driving fast and are not alert.
Traffic Light Ahead
This red triangle with a traffic light in the centre reveals that a traffic light is coming up. This could mean that vehicles ahead of you may stop suddenly.
Drive Cautiously During Wet Conditions
If you see a sign with a vehicle veering off the road and tyre tracks behind it, this means that the surface of the road is slippery and can result in accidents if you’re not cautious.
For more assistance with learning the road signs, you should consider downloading the K53 App on Google Play. The app is free to download and teaches you over 700 road signs in addition to conducting simulated testing that can help you pass your learners license. Alternatively, you can visit the K53 website for more information about their books and which one would be best suited to your desire to get your learner’s license.