10 of the craziest traffic laws in the world
From ambitiously amorous dogs to banging out the tunes – misdemeanours you'd never imagine
Shahzad Sheikh – AKA Brown Car Guy – is an automotive journalist with three decades of experience on various titles including the Middle East edition of CAR Magazine and Used Car Buyer.
Don't go on a red light, don't break the speed limit and don't park on double yellow lines – these are all fairly obvious and universal driving laws. And whether you agree with them or not, you can see the logic in them. Traffic laws usually make sense.
Well, most do. In some cases they're akin to forbidding you from doing the Macarena on Tuesdays at 3 o'clock in the afternoon facing an Easterly direction if the Pope happens to be washing his habit at the same time. I know, right? Fortunately that's not a law, but the below are, so go check them out while I practice my moves. It's nearly three already.
You can't dance here
1. No tunes to fill up by
Pull up at a petrol station in Spain and not only must you switch off your car and put away your phone, but be sure to mute the tunes because letting your radio play loudly will land you with a fine of 91 Euros. Is it that the radio signal could interfere with the pump? Or is it that Euro-pop is classed as noise pollution? Who knows? Perhaps you need to pay a licence fee first? You scoff at that idea? Well, read on to the next bizarre law.
"And I yelled to the cabbie yo homes smell ya later"
2. Taxi drivers must pay to play
Get into the taxi in Finland and you can either make conversation with the driver or endure an awkward silence to your destination. What you can't ask the driver to do is turn on the radio. Finland's Supreme Court ruled that taxi drivers must pay royalty fees to artists if they play music whilst carrying a fare. Which might sound outrageous, except the fee is only about $20 a year – just pay it and crank it up guys.
Chock one up for Estonia - actually make it two
3. Chocks away! In the boot that is
Keeping a fire extinguisher in the car makes sense, as does having one of the collapsible reflecting triangles that are always impossible to assemble when you really need them, but how about wheel chocks? In Estonia it's a legal requirement to carry two in your car. By the way, in Spain you must carry an extra pair of spectacles if you wear them, and in France a breathalyser is a must – tough for a nation of wine-sippers.
BMWs always did attract the birds
4. Brake for the birds
Stopping for chicks is a requirement in Utah, USA. No, not girls. We're talking fowl and feathered creatures of all kind in flight or otherwise, as these have the right of way on the public highway. So if you've ever inadvertently taken out a bird that misjudged its flight path – and, let's be honest, it's happened to most of us – you would have broken the law and would've had to take flight yourselves. It's worth mentioning that in South Africa, ALL wildlife has right of way.
If you can't do this in Kansas, where can you do it?
5. Don't burn rubber in the land of the free
You would think that the country that's home to the most renowned muscle cars ever would be predisposed to sanctioning the occasional burnout, but in Kansas, USA "screeching your tires" is a jailable offence. The law states "unnecessary rapid acceleration, unnecessary tire squeal, skid, smoke or slide upon acceleration or stopping including the casting of tread, gravel, dirt or other road surface materials from the tires” and any activities that “simulate a temporary race" can land you with a $500 fine and imprisonment up to 30 days. Dorothy should stay in Oz.
The girl from Vanishing Point would not be welcomed. Really?
6. You can't go topless in Thailand
It might get hot and humid in Thailand, but under no circumstances can you peel your shirt off and go bare-chested. That is, if you're at the wheel or a car or riding a bike, and before you ask, yes it applies to men, women and all gender types. Really, you shouldn't be doing that anyway as the seats get all icky.
It's a dog's life after all
7. Your dog is not a roof mascot
There is no doubt that dogs like to stick their noses out of the window of a moving car, but to tie one to the roof is simply absurd and downright cruel. Why would you do such a thing? Oh, you wouldn't? Then why is there a law in Alaska, USA which specifically forbids the tethering of a dog to the roof of your car. To be fair, it also makes it illegal to secure them in the bed of a pickup truck too, which seems fair.
We do hope you were doing less than 65!
8. No go for F&F in California
Ever wondered why so much of the Fast & Furious movie franchise is now filmed in exotic locations and outside of America? Well one of the signature moves in F&F movies is the barely believable transitions of person or persons between one moving vehicle and another, usually at high speed and often by vaulting. Well in Glendale, CA it has actually been pronounced illegal to jump from a vehicle travelling at 65mph or faster. Of course if you're going slower than that, knock yourself out, I guess? And you will.
Well that's going to leave a mark
9. Keep your knickers on
There is an actual law that states you must not clean your car with dirty underwear. This is one of those "woah, woah, back up... how in the... I mean what the..." moments. Yep, the normally liberal city of San Francisco forbids the polishing of a vehicle with soiled undergarments. Quite aside from the question of why would anyone even consider doing that, where the mind really boggles is what kind of craptastrophe brought about this particular piece of legislation - was it because of the wrong kind of skid marks in the wrong place?
He was only trying to get his kicks on Route 66
10. No doggy style for cars
Tie your puppy down, because if it decides to get amorous with an automobile in Kentucky, you could be fined $500. Falling under the category of "animal-related nuisance" an ordinance states that it is illegal for a pet to cause “annoyance, discomfort or injury to the health and welfare of persons in the community," and that includes "molesting pedestrians or passing vehicles.” To be fair if your dog can molest a moving motor, it should probably get a medal.