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20 Absolutely Insane Driving Laws from Across the Globe

December 20, 2013

If you can believe them.

In Switzerland, you may not wash your car on a Sunday.
For the simple reason that Sunday is the day of rest. Car washing = blaspheming.

In Arkansas, USA, it is illegal to beep your horn after 9pm near a sandwich shop.
Nowhere in the entirety of the internet is there an explanation of why/how this law came about. But we did find the actual law and the wording is just priceless:
“Sec. 18-54. Sounding of horns at sandwich shops. No person shall sound the horn on a vehicle at any place where cold drinks or sandwiches are served after 9:00 p.m. (Code 1961, 25-74)”.

In South Korea. all traffic police must report all bribes they receive from offending motorists.
We think this has probably been mixed up in translation – they most likely have to report anyone who attempts to bribe an officer, but we think it’s funnier to think that it’s so their Chief back in the police station can still get his cut without leaving the office.

It is illegal in both Tennessee and California to shoot an animal from your car, with the exception of a whale.
We can understand the dangers of operating a gun while driving, and we can certainly see the cruelty to animals argument for not shooting living things – but when, in the history of everything and anything, has a dude ever driven his car across the sea until he finds a whale to shoot. Maybe the whale exception is because, if he exited the car whilst in water, he might get wet? Whoever wrote this law obviously never thought about the risks of driving under and on the sea. You know, like sinking and drowning and death.

In Pennsylvania, if you’re driving along a country road after dark, you must stop every mile and set off a rocket signal and wait 10 minutes before proceeding, to be sure there is no livestock in your path.
We don’t know if it means a firework, a flare or if we’ve got to drive around with a boot full of Voyager 2s – but surely a honk of the horn would do it? Most likely a law from the times of horses and carriages which was never amended, but still a law nonetheless.

By law, all Hackney Carriages must carry a bale of hay and a sack of oats.
Presumably this is another law leftover from the horse and carriage days (incidentally where the hackney carriage got its name) so that you wouldn’t be stranded if your horse got tired and needed to feed. But once again, still a law today which police, if they wanted, could enforce.

In Cyprus, it’s illegal to eat or drink anything at the wheel of a car.
But presumably passing out at the wheel due to dehydration is not. We can understand the principle behind this – drivers should not be distracted by things as they drive. But this is a bit extreme, isn’t it?

It is illegal to run out of fuel on the Autobahn where it passes through Germany,
For obvious reasons, it’s not a very good idea to be stationary at all on a road with no speed limits.

But closer to home, in the UK, it is against the law to attempt a journey knowing full well you do not have enough fuel and do not plan to refuel on the journey.
Everyone screws up once or twice and runs dry minutes away from home, but planning ahead to attempt a journey without enough fuel is massively increasing your chances of grinding to a halt halfway there, and can be very dangerous if you’re on a motorway or dual-carriage way at the time.

On an interesting note, the BBC TV show Top Gear must seek special permissions when they attempt challenges like this on TV and must promise to keep off fast moving roads when they’re nearing the end of the tank.

In Scandinavia, it is illegal to drive without headlights on – even during the day.
This is because of the amount of winding roads through forests and woods – actually not too dumb when you think about it. The headlights will cause flashes between the trees and warn motorists coming in the other direction of the vehicle behind the trees, which would be otherwise invisible.

In France, all motorists must carry a breathalyser at all times – if you do not produce it to the gendarme when asked, you get an £11 fine.
This law does seem stupid at first – but in reality, it’s to stop people making up excuses when they’ve been caught drink driving. You can’t claim you didn’t know you were over the limit – or must have been spiked with strong spirits – when you’ve got your own breathalyser to check if you’re feeling a bit tipsy.

In Mania in the Philippines, you are not allowed to drive on Mondays if your number plate ends in 1 or 2.
This is another law we could not find an explanation for, possibly someone with power had a neighbour they didn’t like whose number plate ended in 2 – and, rather than making the law state that their neighbour had to ride the bus instead of drive his Porsche every Monday, he wrote it to include 1 and 2 and pretend it wasn’t just a petty jealousy issue.

In Japan, if you splash a pedestrian with a puddle, you can expect a fine of about £40.
We just wish this law would make its way back to the UK – but then again, when you’re not the victim, it can be ashamedly hilarious to watch somebody get soaked.

In Singapore, it is illegal for a driver to come within 50 meters of a pedestrian.
We’re all for car safety here at the Car Loan Warehouse, but this is just a bit too far, don’t you think? Where do they put pedestrian paths? What happens when you park up and exit the vehicle – do other cars have to stop until you are 50m away? This one’s positively full of holes.

In Alabama, it’s illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while operating a vehicle.
Which is pretty understandable – and while it is frowned upon in the rest of the world, you can’t help but think about the dumb guy who caused the Alabaman government to have to write this law.

Also in Alabama, it is legal to drive down a one-way street, providing you have attached a lantern to the front of your vehicle.
This sounds like another horse and carriage law that hasn’t been amended to us. But you never know, maybe just one very influential lantern salesman pulled some strings to help him with his hatred of one-way roads.

In Marietta, Georgia, it is illegal to spit from a moving car or bus, but allowed from a moving truck.
‘Cause those darn truckers just don’t listen anyway, we might as well just let them go wild.
But in reality, it’s actually because of the number of trucks which pass through the town, often without stopping – and the driver may not know that, in this area, spitting from a vehicle is illegal. Nice of them to think about the truckers’ needs we suppose.

In California, it is illegal to jump from a car traveling over 65mph and it is also illegal for an unoccupied car to travel more than 60mph.
But if you jump at 60 and leave the car to roll away at 59mph you’re alright. Doesn’t seem safe either way, let’s be honest.

In Illinois, it is against the law to change clothes inside a car without drawn curtains, except in the event of a fire.
What? This one is just plain dumb. Why would you, whilst your car or the surrounding area is on fire, decide on a quick change of wardrobe while the flames gradually moved closer?
We’re guessing the law was instated to stop people changing clothes in their cars, and the exception is most likely to form a loophole for fire fighters who need to don their flame retardant suits whilst on their way to tackle a fire.

And finally, last but not least, if you are caught doing anything illegal in your vehicle – be it an obscure and stupid law or otherwise – if you frown at the police officer who is writing your ticket, you are breaking another law, and will be ticketed again for frowning.
But let’s be fair, most of the rules that are broken often are known by everyone – such as speeding or parking violations, or driving a hackney carriage without your hay and oats – and frowning while getting a ticket is ill-advised. You earned that ticket.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.