Whether you’re well travelled on the road or have never even been behind a steering wheel, the majority of us will be fairly familiar with the basic driving laws – obey the speed limit, stop at the red light and try not to park wherever you feel like it. Pretty sensible, right? That is until you put the pedal to the metal in certain locations around the globe.
The world is a strange place and its bizarre customs and traditions are what add to the spice of life, but it seems that some countries and US states like to inject a heaping load of bizarre into their road regulations of all places. A handful of these international driving laws sound more like a biblical ritual than a legal requirement. Worryingly, these are real and can incur some very real and hefty fines if they are disobeyed.
Have you let your car get a little dirty lately? Do you have an extra pair of glasses with you? Are you thinking of going for a spin in your dressing gown? If you’re planning a big road trip any time soon, you may need to consider these kinds of questions to make sure you don’t get on the wrong side of the law (and we use that term pretty loosely). We have a sneaking suspicion that a bored teenager conjured up some of these outlandish road rules.
Here are 10 of the craziest and most illogical driving laws the world has to offer.
10. No Car Washing On Sundays (Switzerland)
The Swiss are very protective of their Sundays. So much so that seemingly normal activities like mowing the lawn or partying too late on a Saturday night are illegal. Basically, noise pollution is not acceptable in Switzerland and while this is a good thing, it doesn’t really explain why washing your car on a Sunday has also been disallowed.
Another vehicle no-no in Switzerland states that if you leave your car keys inside your car (with the car left unopened), then you will be punished. Something tells us that Swiss drivers may already be punished before the law has a chance to get involved. Insult, meet injury.
9. Carry An Extra Pair Of Glasses (Spain)
If you wear prescription glasses and are heading to Spain on your next vacation, you better make sure you have an extra pair with you. Bespectacled drivers can be fined if they do not have a spare pair of glasses. For us glasses wearers out there, this may not seem too farfetched a law. In fact, it’s pretty sensible to be prepared – it’s just a shame that forgetfulness or a busy morning could mean an on the spot fine.
Another (and arguably more bonkers) Spanish law stipulates that on even days of the month, you must park your car on the side of the road that has even house numbers. The same goes for – yep, you guessed it – uneven days and uneven house numbers. This may only apply to one-way streets in certain cities in the country, but it doesn’t make it normal!
8. Check For People Under Your Car (Denmark)
Danish motorists have the rather strange legal task of checking for people underneath their vehicle before starting it. Finding a curious cat or two under your car is not unheard of, but discovering a person is a different matter. Call us paranoid but if you have to perform this check every time you go for a drive, then owning a car in Denmark doesn’t sound all that appealing!
Most motorists looking beneath their car are usually doing so to make sure there are no bombs tucked away. Although, who needs a bomb to scare you out of your skin when you could have a person staring back at you instead?
7. Don’t Drive On A Monday If Your Plate Ends In 1 Or 2 (Philippines)
Traffic congestion is a big problem in many cities around the world. Solutions can be hard to come by. Enter the Philippines and their unique coding scheme to deal with traffic congestion in Manila.
In an admirable yet seemingly unworkable aim to control traffic, the Philippine government has made it illegal for vehicles displaying certain number plates to drive on a certain day of the week. Cars with number plates ending in 1 or 2, for example, are forbidden from driving on a Monday. There’s something about this law that makes it seem better suited to a made up scenario for the purpose of a math question.
6. Don’t Splash Pedestrians (Japan)
Picture the scene – you’re on your way to an interview or dressed up for a special occasion and a passing car sends a wave of dirty rainwater your way. For most of us, this is a minor annoyance, but Japan takes this act a tad more seriously.
If a driver splashes a pedestrian with mud or rainwater, they can expect a fine in the area of $65. While we appreciate the sense of courtesy the Japanese law shows to its citizens, this one is pretty wacky. It’s safe to assume that truly aggressive – as opposed to accidental – puddle splashers are in the minority.
5. Taxi Drivers Must Pay Music Royalties (Finland)
If you’re hoping to hear some tunes when you hail a taxi in Finland, you might be disappointed. Finnish taxi drivers are expected to pay music royalties if they wish to play the radio for paying customers.
The law came about after a Finnish citizen refused, on two occasions, to pay a bill to the Finnish Copyright Society, Teosto. The cost to play music during each cab ride roughly amounts to $40 a year. While this doesn’t sound like much, no one would blame some taxi drivers if they chose to drive some of their customers in silence.
4. Don’t Drink Water While Driving (Cyprus)
If you’re ever cruising around Cyprus and in need of a light refreshment, drinking whilst in your car could land you in serious hot water. Cypriot law strictly states that drivers cannot be seen drinking water while on the move. When you considering the sweltering temperatures in Cyprus, this a particularly harsh and illogical rule.
We’re well aware of the serious implications of drinking alcohol while behind the wheel, but sipping from an innocent and refreshing bottle of H2O? That’s pretty insane. Given a choice between dehydration and obeying the law, I think a lot of tourists might opt to drive as little as possible on their next trip to Cyprus.
3. Don’t Drive In Your Dressing Gown (California)
One of many bizarre road rules in the sunshine state specifies that female drivers are banned from driving a car in their dressing gown. Presumably, someone taking the wheel in a robe suggests they’re in a hurry and could be a potential speeding risk. However you justify it, though, it doesn’t explain why this only applies to women.
From odd to unbelievable – a law in the city of Glendale, California states that it is illegal to jump from a moving vehicle that is travelling at 65mph. This kind of implies that speeds under 65mph are okay to vacate your car from. Also, if you fancy hunting from a moving vehicle in California, make sure you’re only targeting whales. Don’t ask.
2. Don’t Honk Your Horn Unnecessarily (Australia)
Road-ragers may think twice before honking the horn in the land down under. Across Australia, it is an offence to use your car horn improperly, i.e. for any other reason beyond warning someone of your approach. Giving into frustration behind the wheel can leave you with a $66 fine, with some states even taking points off your license!
On a more eccentric side of the law, you may pick up the scent of hay if you hail a cab. This is because some taxi cabs are legally required to keep a bale of hay in the trunk in case any peckish horses pass by. Though this law was repealed in 1980, many cab drivers still carry a supply of hay to feed livestock, and this supposedly dates back to the days when horses and carts ruled the roads.
1. Make Sure Your Car Is Clean (Russia)
Every once in a while, you might pass an unwashed car or van with the words ‘Clean Me’ scribbled humorously into the dirt. Don’t expect to find many vehicles with this label in Russia. If you do, spare a thought for the car’s owner.
Russians are pretty particular when it comes to cleanliness. So much so in fact that any motorists literally caught riding dirty in Moscow can fetch a fine of up to $100! The law has been pretty vague as to what classifies as an illegally dirty car. Fortunately, due to an understandably angry backlash from motorists, a ‘dirty’ car now refers to the license plate being obscured. Considering that an accidental splash of mud could cover someone’s number plate, this is still pretty harsh!