Traffic laws are pretty much standard across most of the world, but then you encounter weird regulations specific to one area and you can’t do anything but wonder: “Is this for real?” This goes especially for the U.S. where there are way too many layers of laws related to traffic safety.
It’s amazing how many laws and traffic rules of the road the United States has in effect, and just because people lack a little thing called “common sense”. In fact, the United States has so many laws, that there are three branches of governments that do almost nothing but bump out regulations all day, every day, all year long. Not only do we have the three branches, but there are also different levels of laws, such as Federal, state, and local laws.
With all of these bureaucrats pumping out new laws and traffic rules, it’s extremely difficult to manage which of them to enforce and which not to enforce. Road rules and outdated traffic laws remain in effect until they’re repealed, so there are still tons of traffic rules out there that exist that shouldn’t be relevant (or acceptable) in nowadays.
As a general rule of thumb, any time you inspect local laws you’re going to find some wacky gems that are either outdated or completely ridiculous to the casual observer. The same goes for traffic regulations. Every state’s got one or two goofy driving laws, but I’ll outline some of the real head-scratchers below. I’ll also try to bring you some equally peculiar traffic regulations from around the world so you can at least take some comfort in the fact that others too have their struggles thanks to idiotic rules written by those that lack every ounce of common sense possible.
Luckily, there are many police and judicial prosecutors that do have enough common sense to not prosecute these laws. If you run into an instance where they actually do charge you with one of these ridiculous laws, fight it and you will most likely see it disappear. If not, call the media outlets and let them run with it!
You might also be interested in some ridiculous traffic signs which neatly complement this issue. Or how to deal with speeding tickets for that matter.
Ridiculous Traffic Laws From Every U.S. State
Alabama – As a state law, it’s illegal to drive while wearing a blindfold. Seems like an obviously bad idea, but apparently enough boneheads have tried it to necessitate legislation. Thank goodness one state had the foresight to get that law on the books, however strange it may sound. Some clairvoyance on Alabama’s part though! They predicted stupid people will be drawn to that “Bird Box” thing way before it actually happened.
Alaska – If you’re a dog owner in Alaska, you may want to get a vehicle large enough to fit your pet inside your ride, because the State of Alaska has declared it unlawful to tether your dog to the roof of your car. However, there’s no mention of the hood or the trunk lid, or of cats, weasels, lizards, or any other household pet.
Arizona – It’s against the law to drive a car in reverse on a public road, but there’s doesn’t seem to be a problem in Arizona with 89 year olds driving 22 mph in a 45 zone with their left blinker on the entire time.
Arkansas – It’s illegal to honk your horn after 9 p.m. In the vicinity of a restaurant that sells sandwiches or cold beverages. Because it’s rude? Because babies and old people are sleeping? Because the sandwich technician could be startled while cutting your sandwich in half and end up losing a finger? Your guess is as good as mine.
California – In the city of Glendale, it’s illegal to jump from motor vehicles moving at the speed of 65 mph. However, the law does not discuss the legality of jumping from speeds above or below 65 mph. Guess it must be safe to jump from a vehicle going 60 mph, or 120 mph for that matter. In Eureka, on the other hand, it’s illegal to use the road as a bed. Their roads aren’t that comfy anyway. In San Francisco, it’s illegal for commercial businesses to buff or dry a car with used underpants!!! I thought things were a bit more liberal there. Last but not least: it’s against the law for women to drive in a housecoat throughout the Golden State.
Colorado – It’s illegal to drive a black car on a Sunday in Denver. Definitely not enforced nowadays, but still on the books – just in case.
Connecticut – It’s illegal to hunt from a car, even if it’s painted orange.
Delaware – “R” rated movies shall not be shown at drive-in theaters. There may be cars watching.
Florida – By law, you must feed the parking meter if you tie an elephant, goat or alligator to it. Of course, if you tie the goat and the alligator to the meter at the same time, you may return to find the goat missing.
Georgia – As you’re driving through Marietta, keep an eye on what type of motor vehicle you’re following. You see, It’s illegal to spit from a car or bus, but there’s no law prohibiting spitting from a truck. Also, there’s no driving through playgrounds in Dublin, but it is kind of fun. Just don’t get caught.
Hawaii – Hawaiians obviously believe that any hazard must be stationary because it’s against the law for any vehicle in motion to use its hazard lights.
Idaho – Clearly there’s an impression in the City of Idaho Falls that Senior Citizens over the age of 88 must lose all sense of balance, as it’s forbidden for them to ride a motorcycle in that town. And over in Coeur d’Alene, police officers must honk their horn or flash their lights and wait at least three minutes before breaking up any romantic car-based goings-on. That’s quite a generous interval if you ask me because I don’t know anyone who can last that long.
Illinois – It’s illegal to drive a car without a steering wheel – a law which must date to the early days of motoring when there were several different types of steering devices. A more modern concern: you can’t change your clothes in your car in Evanston with curtains drawn. Must be because it’s a college town.
Indiana – It’s against the law to sell cars on Sundays. But is it against the law to buy one?
Iowa – In Mount Vernon, it’s illegal to throw a Red Ryder onto the highway, which in our opinion, should be the law of the land. Moreover, the ice cream man has been banned in Indianola. Must be the reason behind population’s high depression rate.
Kansas – When driving on a specific street in Topeka, Kansas Avenue, it’s considered unlawful to carry dead poultry. Whether it’s a frozen turkey or a bucket of fried chicken, it’s best to find a different route home from the grocery store. This has to make you wonder what goes on in the back of a KFC?! At the same time, thirty days in jail provide a deterrent to any tire screechers in Derby.
Kentucky – It’s illegal for your pet to molest a vehicle in Fort Thomas. Exactly what’s meant by “molest” is not outlined, so I’ll have to leave it to your imagination.
Louisiana – Another leftover from a bygone area that needs to come of the books: a woman’s husband is required by law to walk in front of the car waving a flag as she drives it.
Maine – It’s illegal to buy a car on a Sunday. Maybe they should hook-up with Indiana and create a Saturday “Powerball” kind of car sale.
Maryland – Those that have Tourette Syndrome or issues with road rage should probably avoid Rockville at all costs. There’s an active traffic rule deeming swearing inside a vehicle as a misdemeanor.
Massachusetts – You cannot drive with a gorilla in your backseat. Apparently they’re okay in the front, except for their bad habit of constantly changing the radio stations. It’s like person who wrote this rule knew that and did it on purpose.
Michigan – It’s against the law to sit in the middle of the street and read a newspaper. Kindles and iPads have avoided the law through a technological loophole.
Minnesota – You may want to rethink purchasing that pretty red sports car if you live here. There’s an active law stating that it is illegal to drive down Lake Street in Minneapolis in a red car. Maybe it reminds them of Canada somehow. Who knows. You can also be charged as a public nuisance if your truck leaves mud, dirt or sticky substances on the road in Minnetonka. You’d think a place with Tonka in its name would be more truck-friendly.
Mississippi – In Oxford, it’s illegal to honk your horn because it might scare nearby horses, not to mention wake the blacksmith, the chimney sweep, and the steeplejack.
Missouri – In University City, the small suburb of St. Louis, it’s illegal to honk another driver’s horn. Whether that restricts passengers from leaning over and laying into the horn on the driver’s behalf, or random pedestrians sticking their arm in the window when you stop at a red light, it’s anyone’s guess. Just don’t do it! Seems decent to me.
Montana – Although they jump around like monkeys, it’s illegal to leave your sheep unattended in your truck in the State of Montana. The odd thing is that it is not illegal to leave your dog unattended in the truck in this stat. You also can’t drive a herd of livestock numbering more than 10 on an interstate highway (!) unless the livestock is preceded and followed by flagmen escorts for the purpose of warning other highway users.
Nebraska – By law, drivers on mountains should drive with caution near the right edge of the highway, even though there are no high mountains in Nebraska. I figure this is one of those “just in case” laws should a 1,400 foot volcano grow out of a cornfield like one did in Mexico.
Nevada – It’s illegal to ride a camel on the highway. Of course it is. You’ll have to somehow procure a rhino if you want to ride an exotic animal in the Silver State.
New Hampshire – It’s against the law to inhale bus fumes with the intent of inducing euphoria. If you’ve ever lived in New Hampshire, you’d understand.
New Jersey – New Jersey residents are required by law to honk before passing another vehicle. It’s amazing that this traffic rule hasn’t yet been repealed considering that almost every resident of the state breaks this law on a daily basis. Only drivers enraged by something tend to adhere to this particular rule in my opinion. Another New Jersey law states that it’s illegal to frown at a police officer for any reason. This is really the angry driver’s hell. It doesn’t get much better for drunk drivers either. If you have been convicted of driving while intoxicated, you may never again apply for personalized license plates. Maybe assigning them the license plate “Drunk Driver” might be more effective.
New Mexico – It’s illegal for cab drivers to reach out and pull potential customers into their taxis. At least for the time being, Uber drivers are exempt.
New York – It’s against the law to disrobe in your car in the beach town of Sag Harbor, Long Island.
North Carolina – While nobody should disrespect the deal, the local government of Dunn went as far as to declare it illegal to drive through a cemetery unless you are there to dig a grave.
North Dakota – It’s more about what’s not illegal here: Drivers can use a hand-held cell phone while driving, there’s no law covering drug-impaired driving, no motorcycle helmet law or rear seat belt law for adults.
Ohio – It’s illegal to run out of gas in Youngstown. Also, roller-skaters and cars cannot share the road in Canton. Who has right-of-way is not clear.
Oklahoma – It’s illegal to read a comic book while driving. There’s no mention in the law about graphic novels though.
Oregon – By law, you must yield to pedestrians when driving on the sidewalk. After all, it’s their tax dollars that paid for the sidewalk. Do not leave your car door open longer than necessary and don’t use your car to prove physical endurance on an Oregon road, as they are both frowned upon and illegal.
Pennsylvania – This one’ll crack you up! The law states that while on a country road at night, you must stop each mile and shoot off a rocket in an attempt to clear out livestock from the roads and allow them 10 minutes to disperse. Good thing there are thousands of fireworks shops open 24/7 and neatly tucked away on many beautiful Pennsylvanian back roads just waiting for your business.
Rhode Island – It’s illegal to ride a horse on a highway for the purpose of racing or testing the speed of the horse. Apparently all other uses of a horse on the road are a-okay. Also, drunk driving is so prevalent it Scituate would seem, that they’ve even outlawed traveling with unopened beer in tote. I wonder if they have a squad car stationed across from the liquor store parking lot.
South Carolina – It’s unlawful to store trash in your vehicle in Hilton Head. Why? Rats. Aren’t you sorry you asked?
South Dakota – You only need to be 14 years old to get your driver’s license in South Dakota.
Tennessee – It’s illegal to shoot any game other than whales from a moving vehicle. That explains why the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga just installed bullet-proof glass.
Texas – You must have windshield wipers to register a car, although having a windshield is optional.
Utah – By law, birds have the right of way on all highways. After all, it’s their tax money that pays for the highways. Wait, what!?
Vermont – It’s illegal for cars to backfire in Rutland. It might wake someone up.
Virginia – A city traffic rule in Waynesboro states that it is unlawful for a woman to drive in a vehicle on Main Street unless her husband is present and walking in front of the car waving a red-colored flag.
Washington – Any motorists with criminal intentions must stop at the city limits when entering a town and telephone the Chief of Police. If I were a police officer in Washington, I would slap this charge on every criminal that I cited. If I were a criminal, on the other hand, I’m not sure I could trust the Chief of Police to uphold his end of the gentlemen’s agreement.
West Virginia – It’s legal to eat road kill. Yep, just disgusting.
Wisconsin – It’s against the law for a person to ride a bicycle with their hands off the handlebars. Clearly an effort to crackdown on bicycle riding scofflaws.
Wyoming – If you open a gate over a road, river, stream or ditch, you’d better close it behind you or risk a $750 fine. It’s also ill-mannered and would make your grandma angry.
Ridiculous Traffic Laws From Around the World
Australia – It seems like a strange rule from a country that’s so proud of its history of self-reliance, but Australia has a law where it’s illegal to leave your keys in the ignition when you’re away from the car and the car’s not running. It would seem that someone foolish enough to do so would learn his lesson the hard way, without the need for law enforcement to get their hands dirty. They also won’t allow you to transport hay in the trunk of your car. Thankfully, they’ve now got Uber and Lyft for that.
Canada – In the United States, you’d pretty much have to be a passive-aggressive prick to block your neighbor’s driveway, but block your own driveway?! Who cares?! Well, in Canada, they won’t even let you be a prick to yourself and have made it illegal to block even your own driveway. Several drivers are fighting the law after collecting thousands of dollars in tickets.
China – Much like the U.S., China too has its fair share of ridiculous traffic laws. Children are required to salute to cars before crossing the road so that the driver would yield right of passage. This is more of a rule than law, but the actual traffic law in Beijing states that it’s illegal to stop your car at pedestrian crossing. Imagine what a nightmare it must be to cross a street in a city of over 20 million inhabitants and who knows how many cars?!
Costa Rica – In Costa Rica, not only can you overload your (car?) with bananas, you can be swilling a beer while driving to the exporter. As long as your blood alcohol level does not exceed 0.05%, you’re free to drink a cerveza or other adult beverage of your choice as you drive.
Cyprus – No food or drink in the car. If you get hungry or thirsty, you’d better pull over somewhere or you’ll be subject to a $100 fine. I wonder if the cops would make an exception for donuts? Interestingly enough, the McDonald’s of Cyprus website lists 12 restaurants with a drive thru on an island about 3/4 the size of Connecticut. So who’s eating all those fries?
Denmark – You can’t start your car if there’s someone underneath of it. Maybe one too many auto mechanics suffered heart attacks during pranks gone wrong. Or maybe people were often a) taking a nap under a warm car on a cold day, b) stealing parts off someone else’s cars, or c) practicing the limbo. All sound pretty likely to me.
Germany – Make sure you have enough fuel in your tank to make it to your destination if you’re planning on taking Germany’s famous “no speed limits” Autobahn. If you run out of gas, you’re breaking German traffic law and are very likely to be ticketed for your mistake. It’s illegal to stop on the Autobahn unnecessarily, and running out of fuel falls into that category as it could have been avoided in spite of outrageous gasoline prices in Europe.
Japan – So apparently in Japan it is against the law to be an idiot. Who else but an idiot would you ever get in a car operated by an intoxicated driver? In Japan, sober passengers in the car with a drunk driver can be punished under the law. Also, make sure not to splash a pedestrian while driving over a puddle, you could be hit with a fine of about $65 for “muddy driving.” I can just imagine what a NYC cabbie would think of this law.
Luxembourg – The tiny country of Luxembourg (properly, The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) is smaller than Rhode Island and many counties in the US for that matter. Small as in about 30 miles by 30 miles. For whatever reason, the Luxembourgers enacted a law making it illegal to drive blindfolded. My only explanation is that they wanted to avoid the “blink and you’ll miss it” syndrome. That, or they hired someone from Alabama to write the traffic law for them. They may have hired someone from Texas as well since the Texas windshield wipers rule applies to the tiny European country as well.
Philippines – If you’re riding a scooter, you’d better have closed-toe shoes. Sandals, flip-flops or bare feet could incur a fine. It’s even worse in Serbia, for example, where bicycle drivers are subjected to similar law. Not that we care. They’re a menace to us driving types anyway.
Russia – Yes, it’s true, you can be handed a citation by a Russian traffic cop if your vehicle is too dirty. But it’s really not appearances he’s concerned about as much as the ability to read your license plate number. I wonder if it’s a “fix it” ticket?
South Africa – South Africa has a law stating 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.
Spain – If you are a licensed driver in Spain and you need to wear eyeglasses to correct your vision in order to drive, the law requires you to keep a spare pair in your car at all times. Any if you’re caught wearing Mini Glasses, they’re taken away from you and you’re given a second ticket. You don’t even want to know what they do to you if they catch you wearing Google Glasses.
Switzerland – This Swiss woman is risking an encounter with the law if she’s washing her little Fiat rag-top early on a Sunday. You see, the Swiss are not allowed the mow the lawn or wash their cars on Sunday morning; they are also forbidden from making excessive noise late on a Saturday night, all in an effort to maintain their title of “Most Boring People on Earth.”
Thailand – In a country so well known for its night time entertainment, it comes as a bit of a surprise that drivers must wear shirts while driving in Thailand or risk having to pay a fine. Go figure.
That’s all we’ve managed to squeeze in folks, but I’m sure there are plenty of other ridiculous traffic laws out there.