It’s been a while since I talked to you about driving. In the past, I’ve complained about the tailgaters, lane weavers and speeders that are so prevalent on our highways, but this week I’m going to talk about some of the strange driving laws that can be found in the rest of the world.
Since I’ve already mentioned speed, let’s start with Germany where there is no speed limit on some parts of the autobahns. If your car can do 200 miles an hour, then you’re free to do so — but beware; in most places the limit is 80. You should also remember there’s a German law that says it’s illegal to stop on the autobahn, even if you break down or run out of gas. They call that driver negligence and it’ll earn you a six-month driving ban.
France does have speed limits, but it also requires you to carry a warning triangle and a breathalyzer in your vehicle.
Obviously, you should never drink and drive. That’s outlawed almost everywhere — except Costa Rica. If you’re driving there, it’s not only perfectly legal to have had a drink, you can have a beer or two while at the wheel, as long as you don’t appear to be drunk.
In Sweden, you’ll not see a vehicle on the road without its headlights on, even if it’s the middle of a bright, sunny day. The law says you must have them on at all times and you can get fined if you don’t.
You might be able to have a beer while driving in Costa Rica but in Cyprus, you can’t eat or drink anything while in the car. That means at anytime, even if you’re parked with the engine off, it’s illegal, so I guess you won’t find many drive-through restaurants there.
Do you like listening to the radio whilst driving? I use it to get traffic news and sometimes I listen to books on CD, too. That’s perfectly fine, but, if you happen to visit Spain, remember to turn the radio off when you’re in a gas station. If you don’t, and a cop catches you, you’ll get an automatic $100 fine.
I guess we’ve all seen plenty of roadkill as we drive around but, if you go to South Africa you’ll see a lot less. The law there says drivers have to stop if there’s an animal on the road in front of them, probably a sensible precaution if the beast happens to be an elephant, hippo or rhino, although the law applies to smaller animals, too.
I guess in the hot weather we’ve been enjoying recently we’ve all seen people driving with their hand or arm out of the car window, trying to catch the breeze to cool them down. If you’re in the habit of doing this and you fancy visiting Australia, then you need to curb the desire. Putting any part of the body out of the window of a moving vehicle is strictly illegal and can not only get you a fine, it’ll also put penalty points on your license.
In the Philippine capital, Manila, you can’t drive a car with a plate ending in 1 or 2 on Monday, 3 and 4 are banned on Tuesday and so on through the week. It may seem odd but it’s an attempt to curb traffic congestion. Britain, too, has some driving laws you may find a little strange. For one thing, you need license plates front and back on your vehicle and it’s illegal to have a dirty plate. In fact, it’s illegal to have a plate obscured in any way. I guess that’s not so odd, but how about getting up to a $6,500 fine for deliberately splashing pedestrians while driving along a wet road? It may sound weird, but that’s the law.
Drive-through restaurants aren’t common in Britain, but there are some. If you happen to visit one, be sure to use a credit card or cash to pay, don’t use an app on your phone because that could get you a fine and points on your license. Cell phone use in cars over there is strictly regulated.
We all know there are some bad drivers around and occasionally we may be tempted to comment on some of the things they do. Be careful with this in Britain, using strong language to another driver is construed as causing a “breach of the peace” and will get you a ticket even if the other guy deserved it. At the same time, don’t be tempted to use your car horn aggressively or while stopped, that’ll cost you $1,250 in fines.
Britain’s drunk driving laws are a lot stricter than Costa Rica’s and so the wise driver doesn’t drink at all if driving. If, however you do drive somewhere and then have a couple of drinks don’t be tempted to sit in the car and sleep it off. That will get you an unlimited fine plus ten penalty points on your license.
By now you may not want to drive in Britain but if you do, and you have a pet, remember it must be caged or restrained. Also, don’t be tempted to drive too slowly while taking in the view and definitely don’t flash your lights to warn other drivers that there’s a cop around the corner. All of these things will get you a ticket.
By now you might be tempted to stay home for your vacation. If you do, just remember we have some weird laws here, too.
For example, just like Britain, Massachusetts has a law about pets. It’ll earn you a ticket there if you’re caught driving with a gorilla in the back of your car. California has no such restriction but a woman can be pulled over and given a ticket if she’s seen driving while wearing a bathrobe.
In Arkansas it’s against the law to sound your horn after 9 o’clock at night and in the town of Berwick, Maine, it’s illegal to park within 25 feet of their only Dunkin Donuts.
If you’re in a big city in Michigan, you can’t buy a car on Sunday and if you’re in Hilton Head, South Carolina, there’s a town ordinance making it illegal to keep trash in your car. Sag Harbor, New York’s laws say you can’t take your clothes off in your car, while in New Britain, Connecticut, even if they’re en route to a blaze, fire trucks can’t go faster than 25 miles an hour and just like in Britain if you’re in Rockville, Maryland, don’t be tempted to cuss fellow drivers, it’s a misdemeanor.
Finally, if you’re driving a sleigh in Canada, then the law states you must have at least two sleigh bells on it, even if you happen to be Santa Claus!