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Driving Abroad - Unusual Laws You Should Know

This week it came to light in the news that it’s illegal to use cruise control on your car when you’re driving in Belgium. Whilst one can see the logic behind it – you are likely to not be concentrating on your speed as much as you should, there are many other traffic laws from around the world that stretch credibility. See our new updated page on Weird driving laws.

Unusual Driving Laws:

It’s illegal to drive a dirty car in Russia.
This law applies in other countries too but in Russia it’s implemented with great zeal. One might think that the law maker concerned was a car wash oligarch but the official reason is that it obscures identification and, if the windows are dirty too, causes an accident risk.

No eating and drinking whilst driving in Cyprus
This applies to all types of food and drink including water, an essential in the summer months. Whilst the police say it’s to ensure both hands are on the wheel at the same time for better control, the law doesn’t affect those who smoke nor, seemingly the thousands of drivers who catch up on their phone calls whilst driving!

Always have your dipped headlights on in Scandinavia
Understandable in the countries where for part of the year there is little daylight but the same law applies to Austria and to parts of the Middle East where you’d be lucky to see the lights were on with the glare of the sun.

You must carry a spare pair of glasses in the car in Spain
To be quite honest this is a very sensible law. Imagine you lost your glasses whilst shopping and got back to the car unable to see to drive home. Well done Spain for this piece of legal common sense!

Right of way in Switzerland and South Africa
In Switzerland, pedestrians always have right of way. We’re guessing that it’s because they don’t have as much impact as a car and so should be afforded more courtesy. In South Africa, it’s the animals that have right of way – who’s going to argue when an elephant or a rhino wants to cross at a ‘zebra’ crossing!

Now for some of the sillier ones, but laws nonetheless...

You must wear a shirt whilst driving in Thailand
In Thailand it’s illegal to drive whilst not wearing a shirt. This is because of the strict decency laws that apply everywhere except on the beaches. Best to crank up the air con rather than risk a fine.

You must not drive with a dog on your roof in Alaska
A rather bizarre law that no one seems to know how it originated. There can’t be many people who would drive around with a canine on the roof but just in case you’re tempted, be warned!

You must not drive whilst blindfolded in Alabama
This one seems like common sense but to the law makers of Alabama it must have needed enshrining in law. The risks of doing so seem obvious beyond that of getting a ticket.

If you’re a woman, you are not allowed to drive at all in Saudi Arabia
Strict Muslim laws in Saudi Arabia forbid women to drive. The penalty can be severe including a public flogging. In an attempt to bring equality to the Sheikdom, many women drive secretly, defying the ban.

You must check for sleeping children under your car in Denmark
Springing from a case many years ago where a homeless child was unfortunately killed by a driver of a car he was sheltering under, all drivers are urged to check before driving off.

It’s illegal to block your own driveway in Montreal
This is a law that comes courtesy of the emergency services who found that blocked driveways, particularly those blocked by the owners’ cars were preventing the services reaching incidents.

It’s against the law to splash someone with muddy water whilst driving in Japan
This is one for the courtesy fans. Whilst it may look funny and be worthy of YouTube, you must be careful not to drive through puddles at the side of the road whilst pedestrians are passing.

You may get the death sentence for drink driving in El Salvador
Whilst not implemented, the law on the statute book reserves the right for the state to impose the death penalty on people who exceed the drink drive limit.

 And finally for what we think is the silliest of all…

It’s illegal to shoot whales from a moving car whilst driving in Tennessee!
Don’t ask!

So if you are embarking on a holiday and hiring a car, be sure that you know the rules of the roads for the country you are visiting as driving laws in other countries can be far different from back home and the punishments for breaking those laws can be severe. Read our full Drive Smart Guides for further information.
Chloe Demaret
Posted: October 28, 2014 by Chloe Demaret 0 comments
About the Author -

Travel writer, social media guru, Chloe keeps our readers and customers up to speed with all the car rental and travel trends on our blog. Favourite destination: Dubai.

Last updated: Monday, September 17, 2018
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