There are many bizarre driving laws around the world. If you thought getting a speeding ticket for going 1mph over the limit was ridiculous, you’ve no idea how crazy driving legislation can get. Some of the following laws appear logical, while others seem downright absurd. Sensible or not, it’s definitely worth knowing some of them, especially if you like to drive when you’re on holiday. Whether you enjoy your tipple or take your pet pooch everywhere, this is a must-read guide to ten of the strangest international driving laws out there:
1. Japan: Splashing a pedestrian with rainwater whilst driving past them carries a fine
Most of us have had at least one day ruined because of being soaked with puddle-water by an inconsiderate driver. If it wasn’t bad enough that our shoes were ruined and we had mud up our new suit trousers, we were left cold, wet and embarrassed. To top it off, that cheeky devil in the car had a good old laugh at us, so we know it wasn’t an accident. In Japan, though, the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. A driver who splashes a pedestrian as they drive past incurs a fine.
2. Italy: Dogs must wear seatbelts
As humans, we’ve been obligated to wear seatbelts in our vehicles for decades – and thank goodness! Seatbelts have saved over 50,000 lives in the UK alone since legislation was introduced in the early 1980s. We Brits are well known for our love of animals, and particularly our fondness for pet dogs. In fact, our households are home to over 6.5 million pooch pals. If you’re taking your best friend on holiday with you, take note that in Italy it is law that your dog wears a seatbelt.
3. Germany: You can drive in the nude
If hearing about Thailand’s ban on topless driving has got you down, consider heading to Germany instead. German law dictates that your car counts as ‘private space’, therefore it’s completely legal to drive in the nude should you so wish. That said, you may want to keep your shoes on to ensure you’re covered by your insurance if you have an accident.
4. Thailand: It’s illegal to drive topless
Thailand is a top tropical destination for holidaymakers seeking sun, sea and adventure. While the country is filled with culture, it is possibly better known for its exuberant nightlife. Gap-year students flock to Thailand’s Full Moon Parties and Pattaya is often called the world’s sex capital. As such, you might assume that Thailand has a lax approach to going topless. You’d be wrong, though, as it is frowned upon to bare all on the beaches and it is illegal to drive topless, whether you’re male or female.
5. Russia: You will be fined for driving a dirty car
Have a quick look on the Internet and you’ll find an abundance of YouTube videos showcasing Russia’s car crashes and road rage incidents. Because of this, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking that driving regulations are minimal in the world’s largest country. But believe it or not, it’s an offence to drive a dirty car and you’ll be fined if the number plate is not legible. Probably best to avoid any excuse to get pulled over though, so make sure you head to the car wash on a regular basis.
6. Spain: Spectacle-wearers must carry a spare pair of glasses whilst driving
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, chances are you always wear them whilst driving. After all, apart from the legal necessity, you want to be able to see properly for the safety of yourself and your passengers. However, you probably don’t always carry a spare pair with you. Just think about all the times you’ve lost a contact lens or broken a pair of glasses. It makes sense that, in Spain, it’s compulsory to have a spare pair of spectacles with you in the car.
7. Cyprus: Eating or drinking whilst driving incurs a fine
Haven’t we all chomped on a sandwich in the car driving between meetings or sipped on a drink stowed in the centre console during long drives? It seems harmless enough, but do it in Cyprus and you’ll face a fine. Simply remember to hydrate before your drive and always pull over if you need food or drink during your journey.
8. Macedonia: A drunk passenger cannot ride in the front seat
Many of us dread the night we’re the ‘designated driver’. We don’t drink all evening, watch our mates get plastered, then listen to them talk gibberish the whole way home. At least the role is appreciated, and we take it in turns. We might be used to our drunken pal being sat next to us when we drive them home, but if you’re the designated driver for a night out in Macedonia, make sure any drunk passengers are sat in the back seats. It’s an offence for anyone visibly under the influence to ride in the front passenger seat.
9. Costa Rica: You can drink a beer whilst driving
In most countries these days, you wouldn’t dream of drinking and driving. We all know how impaired our senses become under the influence and thus how dangerous it is. Yet in Costa Rica, while it is still illegal to drive drunk, it not against the law to drink whilst driving! Yep, you can legally enjoy an ice-cold beer while you cruise the roads. Although this is undoubtedly a novelty, it’s still safest to limit your alcohol consumption to the bars.
10. Sweden: Headlights must always be on
In the UK, you only use your headlights at night, dusk or dawn. It makes sense – you turn them on so that you can see and be seen by others when natural light is not at its fullest. In Sweden, headlights must always be on when you are driving. It’s been a mandatory requirement since 1977, so it doesn’t matter whether it’s a fine, bright day or not. If you do forget, other drivers are likely to flash you as a reminder. Although it may seem pointless, the use of 24-hour headlights is said to reduce collisions by five to ten per cent.