8 Tips for Driving on the Left

Roads in all countries visited during a Renedian Motorcycle Safaris are designed for traffic to drive on the left. Fortunately the adjustment is fairly easy for a motorcyclist because you’re always in the middle of your vehicle.

Still, it’s different and your muscle memory will have you checking over your shoulder in the wrong direction until you get acclimatized—usually a quick process.

It’s prudent to take a few minutes and prepare at least mentally before heading out on the road in southern Africa. It can be startling to see a vehicle coming towards you on the opposite side to what you expect.

Driving on the left

Guidelines for a safe transition

  1. Know the rules of the road ahead of time. For example, learn who has the right of way at an intersection—those approaching from the right or left.
  2. Look right first. Your instinct will have you looking left so use extra caution when you enter a street from a parking lot. If you’re stressed or tired, it’s harder to remember the direction from which traffic is approaching. Take a moment before you move off to remind yourself to look right.
  3. Keep left on multi-lane roads unless you’re overtaking someone. Right lanes are for passing.
  4. Practice going around the block if you have the opportunity. Most mistakes happen when pulling out onto the road.
  5. Stay mindful and slow down, especially in urban areas. This is good advice no matter what side of the road you drive on!
  6. Be prepared for roundabouts. You’ll be going clockwise around the circle rather than counterclockwise. Tours going to Cape Town will experience a few roundabouts.
  7. Orientate yourself to the controls if you rent a car for an extended stay. You’ll need to get used to a new position for clutch, brakes, shifter, parking brake, mirrors, and blind spots.
  8. Follow the bike in front of you. It’s but one of the benefits of riding in a group with an expert leader. Renedian trips are planned to take place in areas of light or almost non-existent traffic. In Windhoek, you’re about four minutes from the edge of the city.

In every case, your tour guide will stop after approximately ten kilometres for a quick debrief to make sure everyone is feeling okay, their mirrors are adjusted properly, and the bikes are running well. After that, there’s a stop every 100 kilometres or so for a stretch, bio break, and refreshments from the chase truck.

Related article: Why Southern Africans Drive on the Left