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Driving in Namibia
Safely ‘on the dust’
A few ground rules
So that you can have a safe vacation.
Changing car tyres
Please proceed with caution and concentration when changing tires:
- Handbrake on
- keep car in a straight position
- Stones in front and behind the intact tires
- keep a straight stable position of the jack
- Slightly loosen tyre nuts before lifting the vehicle
- Unload or remove spare tire before lifting the car
- before lifting the car, all people must be out of the car and no one anywhere under the car.
- Lift car until tire floats, unscrew the nuts quickly and put on the spare tire.
- tighten nuts crosswise and lower jack, and tighten the wheel nuts thoroughly again. Double check the nut tightness.
If help is offered with changing, always keep an eye on the contents of your vehicle.
You have two spare tires, please have a damaged tire fixed as soon as possible.
Please make sure that your insurance is valid for accidents abroad.
EMED Rescue 24: 081 924 and +264 61 411600
Notes from the Embassy
An alarmingly high number of German vacationers have serious accidents on Namibia’s roads. In most cases, the accidents – which are often fatal – do not involve third party vehicles, but result in a rollover of the vehicle due to excessive speed. The German Embassy therefore appeals to your own interest and that of your family to heed the following advice: Self-driving with a rental car in Namibia is usually a nice experience.
But: Do not trust that the rental car delivered to you is always maintained according to German criteria by all car rental companies. Therefore, be sure to check brakes and tire condition for absolute reliability. If possible, you should also carry two spare wheels, due to the very frequent punctures on gravel roads. Because of the unusual left-hand traffic and the unfamiliar road conditions, drive defensively and not too fast. And wear your seat belt!
Do not drive too fast: On asphalt roads, 120 km/h can be too great a speed due to sudden crosswinds. On all gravel roads a speed 90 km/h is already too fast! You can usually still control your car with 80 km/h.
Driving 60 – 70 km/h is advisable. You are on vacation! You are certainly an excellent driver on the highways and country roads back at home, but your driving experience there is only a limited guarantee for safe driving. Among other things on should beware the feeling of safety the roads of Namibia bring, the little traffic underway is deceptive. The following applies to all country roads, i.e. asphalt roads as well as gravel roads: Always expect highly dangerous overtaking maneuvers by oncoming traffic in blind curves or in front of any hill that obscures your view! Always expect animals (be it game, be it cattle or goats) that want to cross the road. Especially dangerous times are at twilight, night times are the greatest risk. The collision with a kudu, oryx or cattle is comparable to the collision with a middle class car! It is a common cause of very serious and often fatal accidents. Just as dangerous as a collision is an abrupt avoidance attempt, which almost always leads to a rollover! As a matter of principle, avoid driving at dusk or at night! Divide your daily stages accordingly. The average speed of a full day of driving should be 40 – 50 km/h.
Exceptional dangers on gravel roads: Never drive over 80 km/h, as you can very easily skid because of bumps even on straight roads. You cannot keep a skidding car on the slope if you drive faster than 80 km/h! Keep the car in the lanes: changing over the gravel accumulations running next to the lane easily leads to skidding! Never overtake if the dust plume of a car in front of you, takes away your view of the oncoming traffic. If you still drive into the dust wall, the chance of a fatal head-on collision is very high! When overtaking, but especially in oncoming traffic, be prepared for flying rocks: not only will they destroy your windshield, they can scare you enough to cause you to skid. So slow down your driving until the encounter is over. Always be aware of possible potholes, sand drifts, rocks, gullies, etc., due to the strong sunlight you often discover them only at the last second. In the rainy season, around every bend the road can be flooded: Drive through flooded parts of the road/piste only very slowly. Otherwise you risk a fatal rollover!
If you still skid, try to avoid a rollover:
No over-correcting the steering, no full braking! If you skid into an embankment, do not try to steer the car back onto the slope immediately. If you make the mistake of placing the car at right angles to the centrifugal force with an external inclination: the car will almost inevitably roll over! Try to steer the car in the direction of the centrifugal force. Try to avoid obstacles such as a tree, a stone by steering slightly. Only when you are on the flat, try to steer the car back towards the slope embankment without jerking. Don’t be afraid to drive the car into a pasture fence: It will give you scrapes, but it absorbs the energy best. The bill for the fence is small compared to other potential damage. The risk of skidding is particularly high on gravel roads on curves and downhill slopes. Drive especially slowly and carefully here! With 4×4 (all-terrain) all-wheel drive double cabins (pick-ups), but also with VW buses, special care is required due to the very high center of gravity! With roof loads (roof tent or similar) the risk of skidding and rollover is even higher! Do not rely on your mobile phone since you will only have cellular reception largely populated areas.
A self-drive tour in Namibia is a pleasure if you drive appropriately and carefully! Have fun and enjoy your stay!