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South African Winter Driving Tips

South Africa’s winters are generally mild. However, it’s important to remember a few winter driving tips to stay prepared for any weather surprises. Follow these essential habits to lower your risk of weather-related incidents and arrive safely, no matter the conditions.

Winter Road Conditions in South Africa

South Africans experience diverse winter conditions. The weather is mild in coastal areas, such as Cape Town, with rain and some storms. However, the inland cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria are colder, with plenty of frost and fog. At the same time, in regions of higher altitudes, you may find icy roads and even snowfall.

It’s important to adapt your driving to suit the different types of weather you face on your journey. In this article, we explain how to do this.

Keep Your Eye on Weather Reports

Before heading out onto the winter roads, check the weather reports or use reliable weather apps to get updates on any warnings or alerts. This is especially important if you’re planning a long journey. If the weather seems too severe, rather leave at a different time or see if you can postpone your trip to a later date.

Slow Down and Keep a Safe Distance

Even during mild winter weather, it’s important to adjust your driving speed to match the road conditions. Slow down when it starts to rain, and if your car has cruise control, avoid using it if you’re driving in areas with rainfall or ice and snow.

It’s also best to keep a safe distance between you and other cars. This way, you’ll be able to react in time to an unexpected situation. For example, if the car in front of you suddenly stops, you need to be able to stop in time without sliding into it.

Be Prepared for Low Visibility

Rain can make the roads slippery as well as reduce your visibility. Check beforehand that your windshield wipers are in good working condition and use them to maintain clear visibility. Whenever it rains, switch on your headlights to help you see better and to improve your visibility for other road users.

Avoid Sudden Changes in Speed

In the case of wet roads and slippery surfaces, avoid sudden acceleration or deceleration, as it can cause your tires to lose grip. Accelerate gradually and brake gently to avoid skidding. If your car is equipped with anti-lock brake system (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal in an emergency.

Watch Out for Fog

Fog can cause poor visibility, making driving hazardous. In foggy conditions, use your vehicle’s fog lights and reduce your speed. Additionally, keep a safe distance from other vehicles and be extra cautious at intersections.

Protect Yourself from Hail

Although rare, hailstorms occur during winter in parts of South Africa. If you’re driving during a hailstorm, find a safe place to pull over, such as a covered parking lot or under an overpass. Protect yourself by staying inside the vehicle and avoid parking near trees or power lines.

Be Mindful of Aquaplaning

Aquaplaning, or hydroplaning, happens when your car loses its grip on wet roads, causing you to lose control. To prevent aquaplaning, slow down before driving through standing water and avoid sudden manoeuvres. If you do start to aquaplane, ease off the accelerator and steer gently in the direction you want your car to go.

Be Prepared for Snowfall

While snowfall is rare in South Africa, if you plan to travel to high-altitude areas this winter, prepare for snowy conditions. Make sure your car has winter-season tires for a better grip on snow-covered roads, and pack extra food, water, an ice scraper, and warm clothing in case you get stuck. Remember to drive slowly and maintain a good distance from other cars.

Plan Your Routes

If you’re aware of bad weather approaching, take the time to plan your routes. Choose major highways or well-maintained roads more likely to be cleared of snow or debris. It’s also best to stay updated with road conditions and potential road closures to avoid any unexpected obstacles and delays.

Protect Yourself with Car Insurance

Remember, having car insurance is a must to protect yourself from any unforeseen incidents on the road, as it protects you financially in case of accidents or damages. Make sure your policy covers winter-related incidents, and ask questions so you can understand your policy terms and conditions.

At Prime, we’re proud to include cover for hail damage in all our insurance cover offerings. Our affordable packages allow anyone to get the cover that suits their needs and budget. So don’t run the risks that come with not having car insurance. Get a quick online quote today to find out how much you can save with Prime.


This article provides general information on how to drive safely in winter in South Africa. However, accidents can and do still happen, which is why you should protect yourself in the event of accidents, theft or damages with car insurance.

Remember to always buy car insurance with much thought and only through a certified financial services provider.

Reach out to us today and learn more about getting affordable, comprehensive car insurance with fixed premiums* and a reduce-to-zero excess*. *T&Cs apply.

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