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Driving in Namibia
Safely ‘on the Pad’
A few ground rules
So that you can have a safe vacation.
Please proceed with caution and concentration when changing tires:
- Handbrake on
- vehicle in straight position
- Stones in front and behind the intact tires
- straight and stable position of the jack
- Slightly loosen tyre nuts before lifting the carriage
- Unload or remove spare tire before lifting the car
- before lifting the car all people should be out of the car and no one find themselves anywhere under the car.
- Lift car until tire floats, turn the nuts out, quickly put on the spare tire and tighten the nuts.
- tighten crosswise, lower jack, and tighten the wheel nuts again. Double check the tightness.
If help is offered with changing, always keep an eye on the contents of your car.
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 of the Federal Republic of Germany:
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 always wear your seat belt!
Do not drive too fast: On asphalt roads, 120 km/h can already be too great a speed due to sudden crosswinds. On gravel roads, even 90 km/h is definitely always too fast! If you do suddenly skid, a speed of 80 km/h is much safer as you can usually still control your car!
We advise to drive a speed of 60 – 70 km/h. You are on vacation after all! You are certainly an excellent driver on the highways and country roads of your home, but your driving experience there is only a limited guarantee for safe driving. Beware of a deceptive feeling of safety among other things, on many roads of Namibia there is hardly or only little traffic. The following applies to all rural 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, cattle or goats), that suddenly want to cross the way in front of your car at any time of the day. Especially dangerous times are twilight, late in the evening and night time. 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, 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’s ride 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 that are present 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 falling rocks: not only will they destroy your windshield, but 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 place 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 slow and cautious 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 a “HANDY”! Only in largely populated places you will have “cell phone contact”.
A self-drive tour in Namibia is a pleasure if you drive appropriately and carefully! Have fun and “have a good pad” as they say here!
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
Sanlam Centre, 6th floor
154 Independence Avenue Windhoek/Namibia
Telefon: (++264) 61 273 100 / 273 133 Fax: (++264) 61 222 981
Handy: +264 (0)81 124 3572
Info about Namibia
Gravel road etiquette
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