If navigating a strange city seems like a daunting task to you, imagine how much of a pain in the ass driving in a foreign country must be. The odds are not stacked in your favor, as things like unpaved mountain passes, bizarre road signs, speedometers that only register in kilometers, and steering wheel alignments that require you to shift with your left hand attempt to mess with your head. Then there are the traffic laws, which can be just as twisted and confusing as the roadways themselves, as an article in The Huffington Post is quick to highlight.
While we found the publication’s list to be both surprising and amusing, we couldn’t help but feel that something was amiss, and decided to delve deeper into the topic of nutty worldwide driving laws. Since getting an international driver’s license in America is as easy as going to a local AAA branch and paying $30, it behooves us to offer a cheat sheet on how wacky things really are out there, so even weirder laws needed to be sourced.
After a bit of digging, we turned up a handful of winners we felt met the bill — many of which came to us courtesy of the Autos section of Yahoo and the U.K. division of AOL. What we discovered gave us pause, as we wondered how any of these laws ever were allowed to pass, and more importantly, why in the hell they are still being implemented today.
But let’s not just focus on the extreme, and let’s touch upon the weird as well, because dammit if there aren’t some really unexpected laws out there. Also, in order to offer a streamlined list, we have broken today’s cheat sheet down by country of origin and have kept it to ten entries, all of which will leave you perplexed.
We begin our list with a simple but very strictly enforced law from Thailand. According to Yahoo, this popular Asian destination requires male and female drivers to keep their shirts on, regardless of how hot it is may be. This goes for operators of cars, buses, or “tuk-tuk cabs” as well. All we want to know is: If someone isn’t driving, can they take off their shirt and work on tanning themselves in the backseat of a convertible?
2. South Africa
While South Africa supposedly only has one car for every five citizens, it still feels that it needs to have some strict laws in place to protect its livestock. Yahoo says it has a law in place that states that “the driver of a vehicle on a public road shall stop such vehicle at the request or on the signal of a person leading or driving any bovine animal, horse, ass, mule, sheep, goat, pig, or ostrich on such road.” Fines can run up to $500 for anyone who doesn’t yield appropriately, and we wonder if hitting an ostrich lands additional animal cruelty complaints.
Yahoo continued to surprise us with bizarre driving laws when we discovered that splashing a pedestrian with water while driving is illegal in Japan. Apparently, enforcement of this law goes up during the month of June, when typhoons tend to leave a lot of standing water on roadways. Another bizarre law allows anyone in a vehicle who is of legal drinking age to imbibe alcohol just as long as the driver does not partake.
The travel section of AOL says that in Manila, people can’t drive in certain areas based upon what day of the week it is and the last digit on their license plate. If a car’s plate ends with a 1 or a 2, the driver can be fined if caught driving in congested areas during certain times. This is also true in certain areas of Paris, but due to typhoon-influenced seasonal flooding, Manila is far more strict about these safety-based regulations.
5. United States
Yeah, we’ve got some weird driving laws too apparently. Yahoo Autos says that in Montana, it’s illegal to have sheep in the cab of a truck unless there is a chaperone, and in Alabama, it’s illegal for people to drive while blindfolded because, well, it’s dangerous and stupid. New Jersey also has a strange law where residents are required by law to honk prior to passing, which would confuse the hell out of us as we wouldn’t know if someone wants to pass us, say hello, or warn us about asshole drivers who like to hit their horn.
Yahoo says driving a filthy car can get you fined up to $55 regardless of whether the car is dirty on the outside or inside. Originally put in place to keep license plates visible during icy months, when salt and grime are prone to caking onto a plate, this law has proven to be problematic for certain motorists, since it is also illegal to clean your car anywhere outside of your home or a car wash.
The Huffington Post reports that when cruising the Autobahn, it is highly illegal to stop on the high-speed freeway for anything other than an emergency. Apparently running out of fuel is also considered entirely inappropriate, as this is considered driver negligence, and drivers are likely to face a very sizable charge for endangering themselves and others due to their oversight.
Anyone requiring vision-correcting glasses in order to drive the streets of Spain must keep a spare set in their car at all times, just in case one set ends up missing or a lens falls out. According to The Huffington Post, this law is a nation-wide ordinance and is left to the discretion of the police officer as to whether the driver deserves a ticket or not.
AOL reports that all drivers in France are now required to carry an unused breathalyzer kit in their vehicle at all times. Apparently, this is to help prevent drunk driving while cutting down on government costs incurred during traffic stops. We are curious as to what kind of fines are enforced for having a heavily used breathalyzer.
Our final bizarre law on today’s cheat sheet is brought to you courtesy of the tiny Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where according to AOL, drivers who unnecessarily raise a hand from the steering wheel can face some serious fines. Accidents have become so frequent in recent years that it is now even illegal to eat or drink anything while driving on the island!
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