Here’s when you are allowed to drive in the emergency lane in South Africa

There is a common perception amongst motorists that cars have right of way over trucks, and many motorists expect truck drivers to immediately move aside for faster vehicles without considering that the truck driver might have a good reason for deciding it is too risky.

To clarify this issue, it is important to look at what regulation says about yellow lane driving, says managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert.

Herbert said that Regulation 298A of the National Road Traffic Act explains that yellow lane driving is always forbidden except in the following instances:

  • If there is a genuine emergency like a breakdown, when rushing to hospital or if you need to stop suddenly for a medical or other emergency;
  • On a freeway, only emergency vehicles may use the yellow lane.

“The yellow lane may never be used as a passing lane on a freeway. Yet, there is an exception to this. On single-lane carriageways, vehicles may move into the yellow lane to allow faster moving vehicles to pass.”

Herbert said that this too is governed by limitations and may only be undertaken:

  • When another vehicle needs to overtake.
  • If there is no chance of endangering anyone’s life.
  • During daylight hours.
  • If you have a clear 150 metres of visibility in front of you. Thus it may not be performed on a blind rise or in heavy rain or fog.

Herbert said drivers must understand that while using the yellow lane to allow other vehicles to pass is permissible to prevent traffic from backing-up, it is courteous driving, not a legal requirement.

“If the driver of a truck feels moving into the yellow lane will endanger oneself or others, he is under no obligation to do so. In turn, motorists should respect that and not pressure drivers into making dangerous decisions.

“Remember, a truck driver has a much better view of the potential dangers ahead and if they decide to not move into the yellow lane, they likely have good reason.

“Not only are they protecting their own safety but yours as well. Practice patience and wait for a safe opportunity to arise and if by some chance, they don’t move over and you see a safe opportunity, overtake them using defensive driving techniques,” he said.


Read: The speed limit rules in South African complexes and estates

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Here’s when you are allowed to drive in the emergency lane in South Africa