Highway Codes Around the Globe
The Highway Code is constantly being updated to make motorists and pedestrians safer, but a survey by the AA revealed that 61% of drivers had not read the new updates. These changes to the code came as recently as January 2022 while the survey was released in September.
Drivers and motorists would do well to keep updated to avoid any unexpected fines that could come from not being aware of the rules and laws of the road. Especially when you look at some of the strangest rules and laws for driving around the world, which we’ll look at in this article. The weirder, the better!
The strangest rules in Europe
One of the most notorious rules for driving in Europe came when in France in March 2013, it was announced that a law would be introduced that required drivers to carry “at least one” disposable breathalyser kit in their vehicle. This was for if they were stopped by police and if motorists didn’t have one, they’d receive a fine of €11.
Countering drunk driving is important no matter the country, however, this law caused a lot of confusion for drivers due to the lack of specificity. And in a French bill on transport and mobility in 2020, it was announced that the law was to be scrapped. The benefit to this change is that if you take your used Audi A1 on the ferry to drive through France, you won’t need to worry about bringing a breathalyser from home.
In neighbouring Germany, the autobahn is the crown jewel of motoring culture in the country. It has become one of the most notorious motorways in the world thanks to its unrestricted zones that allow for motorists in specified vehicles. This means you can see cars accelerating beyond 200 mph. But this means that on this road, stopping on the motorway is prohibited. This doesn’t just include parking, but also means that if you run out of fuel, you could be breaking the law for neglectful driving.
Further east, in Russia, it’s illegal to drive a car that is dirty in Moscow and Chelyabinsk. You can be fined up to 2,000 rubles, or €30. While the decision as to whether the body of the car is dirty enough for a fine or not is down to the discretion of the individual police officers, your number plates must be clean and visible.
The state of the States
The United States of America is one of the biggest countries for motoring culture in the world. The great American road trip has inspired novels, films, and television shows; and with motorways like Route 66 becoming world-famous, there will be plenty of laws and restrictions to follow when behind the wheel. This includes ones that you might read and think seem a bit too out there to be real.
With over 50 states in the country that all have their own individual laws, some may become commonplace that might even stun other Americans. A great example is in Little Rock, Arkansas, which has a specific law against anyone behind the wheel using their horn “at any place where cold drinks and/or sandwiches are served” beyond 9 pm. Yes, you read that right. The law is like UK traffic rules prohibiting the use of a horn between set times, but this law includes a setting which is incredibly specific.
If you want an even more specific law that is so targeted you may think “who is this aimed at?”, look no further than Galesburg, Illinois. A three-hour drive from the State capital of Chicago, Galesburg has a law that directly states: “No rider of a bicycle shall remove both hands from the handlebars, or feet from the pedals, or practice any acrobatic or fancy riding on any street.” Theoretically, this means that if you were to simply ride a bicycle and take both hands from the handlebars for a few seconds, you could receive a fine from a police officer in this city.
Elsewhere in the world…
The world is so much bigger than just Europe and America, so we’ve cherrypicked some of the most unique driving laws from various countries globally. Starting off in Thailand, where road laws state that you must be clothed from the waist upwards to drive in the country. The seriousness of the infraction on the law is decided by the individual officer, but it can result in a fine for the offender.
South Africa is home to some of the most astounding views on the open highways that stretch for miles and miles. However, motorists aren’t on their own on these expansive roads, as native wildlife roam on and occupy the road. Overtaking them or refusing to slow down for them can result in a considerable fine.
Drunk driving is a serious issue we’ve touched on earlier, but in Japan there’s an extra emphasis placed on the danger. In fact, the legality of drunk driving is so strict that passengers who are completely sober are also at fault in the eyes of the country’s law. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve had in your system; it is still illegal to get into a vehicle with a driver who has consumed any alcohol whatsoever.
It’s always good to know what the laws of a country you’re travelling to are, especially if you’re planning on taking your own car or hiring one for your trip. This way, you won’t get caught out by some of the weirder and more wonderful hidden laws that the locals all know about.