There are thousands of unusual traffic laws throughout the world, although most of them weren’t that odd when they were created. This is because laws tend to stay on the books long after they become obsolete or just plain common knowledge.
In many cases, these weird laws were enacted in response to someone actually doing precisely what the law prohibits, a fact you may find hard to believe in some instances! Here are 20 of the strangest traffic laws in the world.
20 UNUSUAL TRAFFIC LAWS
1. Drivers are prohibited from driving on certain days (Philippines)
The Philippines’ capital of Manila is famous for its traffic congestion, which makes the metropolitan area “uninhabitable”. Traffic is so bad in the Philippines that drivers are restricted from driving one day of the week with the day based on the last digit of their license plate number.
2. Drivers must have an extra pair of prescription glasses in their car (Spain)
Spain is known for its unusual traffic laws that can catch travelers off-guard with laws that vary by the day of the week and time of the day. If you need prescription glasses to drive, be sure you have a back-up with you before you hit the roads in Spain. Spanish traffic law requires motorists keep a spare pair of glasses in their car, just in case the first pair is lost or damaged.
3. Drivers can’t run out of fuel on the Autobahn (Germany)
The Autobahn is Germany’s world-famous federal highway where speed limits are an abstract concept. As though driving the autobahn isn’t challenging enough, it’s illegal to run out of gas on the highway. It’s also illegal to walk on the Autobahn so getting stranded and walking in search of gas can mean two fines, first for endangering other drivers and another for endangering yourself!
4. Drivers cannot come within 50 meters of a pedestrian (Singapore)
While staying 50 feet away from pedestrians may seem a bit extreme to many drivers, this law in Singapore is designed to protect pedestrians. It also seems to work very well as Singapore has one of the most efficient road systems in the world!
5. Drivers cannot splash pedestrians with rainwater (Japan)
Japan offers up another example of a seemingly odd traffic law that’s designed to protect people. In Japan, it’s illegal for drivers to splash pedestrians with rainwater. Unlike many unusual traffic laws, this one is actually highly enforced through the month of June when typhoons often leave a great deal of standing water. In one 5-year period, police received 63 reports of motorists splashing pedestrians while driving through puddles.
6. Drivers must check for people under their vehicle before starting the engine (Denmark)
While safety is important, it can also be taken a bit far. In Denmark, motorists are required by law to check beneath their vehicle for people or animals that may have taken shelter before they start the engine. The law specifically warns drivers to check for sleeping children.
7. Drivers must wear a shirt while driving (Thailand)
Thailand has very strict decency laws, except on beaches. If you plan to drive in Thailand, make sure you’re wearing a shirt! This law applies to operators of cars as well as buses and the country’s “tuk-tuk cabs,” regardless of how hot it gets.
8. Drivers cannot tie their pet dog to the roof of a car (Anchorage, Alaska)
Alaska definitely has some strange laws on the books, many of them relating to animals. For example, it’s illegal to view moose from an airplane, and don’t even consider pushing a live moose from a moving airplane unless you want to run afoul of the law.
One of the more unusual city laws in the state prohibits anyone from tying their pet dog to the roof of their car. According to Anchorage traffic code 9.36.150, it IS permitted to carry your dog on the outside of your vehicle as long as the space has side and tail walls, and the dog is cross-tethered and secured in a container.
9. Drivers may not drive while blindfolded (Alabama)
Speaking of common sense, you may assume it would be obvious that you shouldn’t try to drive while blindfolded, but Alabama wants to make sure it doesn’t happen. Section 32.5A.53 of Alabama traffic code outlaws blindfolded people from operating a motor vehicle. The same statute also prohibits loading a vehicle with so many people that the driver can’t see or control the vehicle.
10. A driver cannot honk their horn anywhere cold drinks or sandwiches are served after 9 pm (Little Rock, Arkansas)
No one wants to be woken up by a honking horn, but it may seem a bit strange to put it into law in such specific cases. In Little Rock, it’s illegal to honk your horn after 9 pm near a place where sandwiches or cold drinks are served, including fast food establishments, restaurants, and presumably gas stations.
11. No unoccupied vehicle may exceed 60 miles per hour (California)
Some unusual traffic laws just seem difficult to violate at all. In California, it’s illegal for an unoccupied vehicle to exceed 60 mph. While it isn’t clear if this law applies to passenger vehicles like cars or other types of transportation like trains, it definitely seems hard to accomplish. If you find yourself speeding toward a cliff in California and bail before you go over the edge, you may be issued a citation — but at least you’ll be alive!
12. It’s illegal to clean a car in a car wash with used underwear (San Francisco, California)
San Francisco is known as one of the greenest cities in America with a goal of becoming waste-free by 2020. While San Fran is big on repurposing trash, this definitely doesn’t apply to underwear. While you can clean mud or bird droppings off of your windshield with a paper towel, make sure you don’t use a pair of dirty underwear if you want to stay on the right side of the law.
13. It’s illegal to shoot animals from your car — unless it’s a whale (Tennessee and California)
It’s important to practice safe driving, and avoid endangering pedestrians and other motorists by trying to hunt out the window of your car. Tennessee and California both ban shooting animals from your vehicle, but an exception is made if you’re shooting a whale.
14. Owners must deposit money to tie a goat, alligator, or elephant to a parking meter (Florida)
Don’t think you can use that parking meter for free if you need a place to tie up your pet elephant, goat, or alligator in Florida; you will need to deposit the appropriate amount of change first. However, the law doesn’t make it clear how a citation would be left if you go over your time limit.
15. It’s illegal to drive with a gorilla in the backseat of a car (Massachusetts)
Massachusetts takes animal welfare seriously by prohibiting driving with a gorilla in the backseat of your car. If you want to cruise around town with a gorilla, the animal must sit in the passenger seat.
16. You can’t drive a black car on Sunday (Denver, Colorado)
While it’s not enforced, Denver, Colorado prohibits driving a black car on a Sunday. It’s not clear what you’re expected to do if you own a black car and need to run to the store on a Sunday except hitching a ride from a friend with a more acceptable vehicle color.
17. Drivers cannot drive through a playground (Dublin, Georgia)
While this should go without saying, take care to avoid driving through any playgrounds if you’re passing through Dublin, Georgia. While you’re there, make sure you also avoid playing catch on a city street if you want to avoid another fine.
18. It’s illegal to leave a sheep unattended in a truck (Montana)
Montana law prohibits leaving a sheep alone in the cab of your truck. If you need to run into the store to use the restroom or pay for gas, you may need to take your sheep with you to avoid a citation. Good luck!
19. It’s illegal to hang air fresheners or dice in a car (New Jersey)
An unusual traffic law from New Jersey prohibits hanging air fresheners or dice in your vehicle. What’s more, it seems this law is even enforced and police can use it as a reason to pull you over. Play it safe in New Jersey and avoid hanging anything from your rearview mirror.
20. It’s illegal to frown at a police officer (New Jersey)
New Jersey has another odd law that makes the list: you aren’t allowed to frown at police officers. The law extends even further in Bernards Township, New Jersey, where the entire town has been declared a “Frown-Free Town Zone” that bans frowning at all!
These strange laws are just a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of unusual laws still on the books around the world. While most of them seem like common sense, a few actually make a lot of sense once you consider the reason for the law.