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South Africa

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Complete Guide to Waze in South Africa (Under Development)

Thank you for your interest in improving the roads in South Africa. To get started, make sure you are up to speed with the basics of how to use the Waze Map Editor (WME). Editing is a time consuming activity, so it could be handy to use the shortcut keys. Pressing '?' while using WME will pop up a panel showing the supported shortcut keys.

Before you begin, please read the information about Google aerial images and the use of Googze (i.e. don't use it!). Consulting a map book or looking up the name of the road should be ok, but do not trace roads from Google maps or Google aerial images. In areas which have been gated off, Google is not always accurate anyway. Please ensure you read the section on external sources of data as using these may infringe copyrights. It is preferable to use GIS information supplied by local authorities, should this be available.

Choosing the correct road type

Choosing the correct road type is important in correctly mapping out your area. Below is the most common supported road types. When any of the National, Regional or Metropolitan designations (N,R,M) are used as part of the road name, the correct road type should be taken into consideration, especially when the road goes through towns. If a Freeway type is used where an N road runs through a major street in a smaller town, the inhabitants will never be routed on the main roads in the town if their client option is set to 'Avoid Highways'.


Freeways are free flowing roads with no stop streets or traffic lights. Access to Freeways are limited to only on- and off-ramps. These are generally your national roads (N1, N2, N3 ...) or motorways (M1, M2 ...).
Major Highway
These are roads with a few stops or traffic lights. They are generally alternate routes leading from one major city to another that go through the center of smaller towns. They are generally regional roads (R roads) (R21, R23, R24, R29) with few stops and multiple lanes.
Minor Highway
These are similar to major highways except they have more stops, so most intersections will either be a stop or a traffic light. They will generally be R roads which are single lane.


Ramps are used to connect entrances and exits to highways. They should only be used to connect any street type to Freeways, Major Highways or Minor Highways. The 'Ramp' road type should never be used as AT-Grade connectors for creating slipways on non-highway street types.

Primary Street

These are roads that are not highways and are heavily used. This would generally be the fastest route you would take to travel through a suburb or town. Examples in Johannesburg would be Rivonia Road, Bowling Avenue and South Road in Sandton, or Jan Smuts, Rissik and Empire in town.

Service Road

Service roads generally run alongside freeways and highways, allowing access to businesses situated right next to it. In other countries they are also used by emergency vehicles. In South Africa we generally have a hard shoulder which is used as an emergency lane, and we do not have service roads that lead directly off of our freeways.

Dirt Roads/4x4 Trails

Any public road that does not have a tarred or otherwise paved surface can be considered a dirt road. Private farm roads and trails that are used exclusively as 4x4 trails should preferably not be mapped. They provide no functionality for the general commuter.

Parking Lot Road

As the name suggests, parking lot roads are used to map parking lots for shopping centers and Parkades. It is strongly advised not to clutter the map by drawing every single lane of the parking lot, but just the general exits and entrances and main sections that lead directly to shop fronts. If you map all lanes, do not be surprised if some of your edits are deleted by Area Managers. Parking lot roads are especially useful to 'offload' false traffic jam information at some fast food drive-throughs, or when parking lots are close to main roads and Waze might think you are stationary on the main road.

Private Road

These are roads that are not accessible to the general public. i.e. you need special permission to access these roads. This is for Military Bases and gated communities like secure complexes (think Dainfern in Fourways or the Equestrian estate in Woodmead). Some complexes have multiple entrances that connects to the national grid at opposite ends, and if they are not marked as Private Roads, Waze will incorrectly attempt to route people through there.


Any drivable road that does not fit into the category above is a street.

Non drivable road

Do not use these categories. They are unnecessary. If any non-drivable roads are connected to the normal road network, Waze will attempt to route you across these roads.

Controlling Turn Instructions

It is important to understand how turn instructions are generated by Waze and how proper instructions can be forced by clever editing. In the same way, careless editing or leaving extra geometry nodes can also produce some unwanted or incorrect instructions. Generating turn instructions are discussed in the section on controlling turn instructions.

Setting Directionality

Setting the proper allowed direction of travel or directionality of the road is important. Roads can be 'one way' in a specific direction, or bi-directional that allows traffic in both directions along the same segment. Normal streets typically allow traffic in both directions along the same segments, where Freeways are typically mapped as two separate One Way segments in the opposite direction.

Setting Turn Restrictions

Directly after connecting road segments together, it is important to set the correct turn restrictions for the junctions. This ensures that routing is only allowed across connected segments where it should, and to ensure that Waze does not attempt to route you where turns are not allowed on the actual roads.

Naming Roads

Naming the road is important. If it is not named, there is no guarantee that it will be visible or even usable in the client. This also allows for easier searching and quicker identification of turns. The accepted naming convention is to use the proper English abbreviations for the road name. The accepted name for 'Elizabeth Avenue' or 'Elizabeth Laan' should thus be 'Elizabeth Ave'. Where road names use numbers, stick to what the actual signage indicates, as 'First Road' is not the same as '1st Road'. Acceptable abbreviations:

English Afrikaans Abbreviation
Alley Al
Avenue Laan Ave
Boulevard Blvd
Close Cl
Crescent Singel Cres
Drive Rylaan Dr
Place Oord Pl
Road Weg Rd
Street Straat St

Freeways and motorways

Freeways and motorways generally have a letter/number that everyone recognizes as well as a name that most people don't. For example, the N1 by Johannesburg is called the Western Bypass. As such, the northbound section should be named: N1 Western Bypass North, while the southbound portion should be named N1 Western Bypass South. If you are unsure of the full name, then just name it by its common name, i.e. N1 North. It is advisable to use the full direction and not the abbreviation as N1 North looks a lot cleaner on the client than N1 (N).

Major and minor highways

The same rules apply as those for freeways, however, you should think carefully about splitting major highways. Minor highways that are single lane in either direction should never be split. In such cases you would simple leave out the direction indicator.

Primary Roads

Most primary roads will have a name that everyone recognises and a number that not many do. For example, Bowling Avenue is the M85. The naming scheme should be the name followed by the number in brackets, i.e. Bowling Ave (M85) or Commissioner St (R24)


Normal streets generally just have a name with no separate N, R or M designation.

Roundabout segments

Roundabouts should not be named, but they should also not be left as red blotches of road. Select the 'No Name' checkbox for each of the segments in the roundabout, and properly fill in the 'Suburb, City' name for the segments. If the City is not known, or you are uncertain, ensure you check the 'No City' checkbox. Was it mentioned that you should not leave them as freshly paved 'red' roads ?

Naming the City

South African addresses are complicated in that they have multiple levels: An example would be: Country: South Africa
Province: Gauteng
City: Johannesburg
Town: Sandton
Suburb: Morningside

Waze automatically stores the country, so this is unnecessary. However, the other three are all likely candidates when searching for an address. This is a problem as Waze only allows us to capture 1 entry under city. Wazers have got round this problem by capturing the Suburb, City. So the above example would be Morningside, Johannesburg. This is the recommended method as just capturing the suburb can cause confusion with people who are not familiar with the area.

Please do not type anything into the English City Name. Our cities are either in English or do not have an English equivalent. There is no need to translate Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein. In the past someone thought they might be able to use this field for a suburb, unfortunately this means that center Johannesburg has an english name of "Sunningwood"

Splitting a road

Splitting dual lane roads is not advised as this requires a lot of maintenance with turn restrictions at intersections. A split road will generally cause Waze to start recommending illegal U-Turns if it is not properly created. This includes routing onto an adjacent road, where a U-Turn will be suggested to get back onto the same road again, especially where traffic lights have longer than average waiting periods. As it is not a simple task to un-split a road, be sure to refer to the sections on when to split or not split a 2-way road and when to unsplit a road. WME does not currently support the "Separating Lane" option that the retired Cartouche editor had.

Other Mappable Categories

Waze supports certain Landmarks that can be mapped. Not all types are useful, and Landmarks should be used sparingly. Traffic Circles can also be created to generate proper instructions for negotiating roundabouts.

Traffic Circles or Roundabouts

If traffic circles are mapped just using normal street types, drivers will not get any special instructions. It is thus important to create them using the Roundabout tool. This way the driver will be notified to carry straight on, or take a specific exit number using an 'At the roundabout, ...' voice prompt. The best way to create a roundabout is discussed in this section of the Wiki. When multiple different road types all connect to the roundabout, ensure that the proper road type is set to the highest common denominator for the roundabout road type.


Waze supports quite a number of different Landmark types. Adding Landmarks should be done sparingly, as they tend to clutter the map and not all of the landmarks serve any useful purpose. Some of the landmarks have the ability to suppress traffic generation, like the 'Gas Station' or the 'Parking Lot' type. If Waze detects that you are within any of these landmarks, and you are stationary, it will not generate false 'Traffic Jam' information. It is thus important to ensure that these types of landmarks do not overlap or snap to any of the roads around them, as this will inhibit traffic report generation in these areas.

Tips for successful editing

  1. In the View Panel select "Highlight Connectivity". When you click a road the cartouche will highlight each road that your selected road can lead to in green, and highlight each road that leads to your selected road in red/orange. This is useful to identify if you have turn restrictions in place.
  2. Do not use the turn restriction layer. As of writing it is broken and can cause hours of frustration!
  3. If you need to move two connected roads far from where they currently are, disconnect them from each other. To do this, click the road, then click the junction where they connect and click "Disconnect road from node". Greatly changing the geometry of road you are not working on will make it very difficult for you to then select that road as the cartouche will think it is still in its original position. If this does happen to you, try click a part of the road that did not move.
  4. Drawing two roads so that they touch does not automatically mean you can turn from the one to the other. To do this, make sure you add a junction. And to make your life easier, make sure you always have "Enable all turns" checked. This means you can then restrict just the turns that are not possible.
  5. To select multiple roads, hold down the control key while click on the roads.
  6. Once you are done with an area, turn on the "Map Problems" layer. This will help you quickly identify problems. If you can't work out what a problem is, look in the view panel for a description. If you still can't work out what the problem is, it might be a small piece of a road underneath. Try moving some of the roads out the way to see if a latent piece of road was left cut off when you added a junction.
  7. Learn the shortcut keys. They make life a lot simpler!

  8. FAQ

    A lot of Frequently Asked Questions are already covered in the current FAQ.


    The Glossary explains some of the abbreviations and terminology used in the Waze world.

    User Manuals

    Even though it's not widely advertised, there are some User Manuals available for the supported device types. It may not relate to the latest version of the client, but might help you understand the functionality provided by the client interface.

    Final words

    Just have fun and happy Wazing. Hope to see you on the roads soon!