Ever wondered why British roads are so safe? Perhaps it’s our capacity to queue, our eagerness to apologise for things that aren’t remotely our fault or our fundamental sense of national politeness?
More likely, it’s the country’s idiot-proof Highway Code that stops (most) drivers doing something stupid, mad or altogether un-British.
That said – there exists certain rules in the Highway Code that would make most drivers laugh. And that got us thinking: what are the world’s weirdest traffic laws? Let’s find out…
1. London Cabbies – don’t forget your hay bale
Despite an absence of hungry horses trotting the streets of the capital, law states that Hackney Carriages must carry a bale of hay to feed their dependable workhorse. The law was introduced in the Victorian-era, and is yet to be removed from the UK’s driving rulebook.
2. It’s illegal to eat or drink whilst driving in Cyprus
Most Brits wouldn’t hesitate to reach for the water bottle and take a guzzle when driving in the UK. Do so in Cyprus however, and you could find yourself with a hefty fine. The country has made it illegal to eat and drink behind the wheel – even in the heat of summer.
3. Car caked in mud? Stay out of Russia
The Russians must have missed the western idiom, ‘a little mud never hurt anyone’. Drive a dirty car in the country and it’ll cost you around 2000 roubles (that’s around £22), not to mention a new pair of underwear after facing the terror of the Russian Politsiya.
4. Headlights are a legal requirement 24 hours a day in Scandinavia
Ever noticed that old Volvos always had their lights on? That’s because they can’t be switched off. Scandinavian traffic laws require lights to be on at all times, due in part to the region’s gloomy conditions for a large majority of the year.
5. Driving in Germany? Top up the tank before you travel
A German autobahn is no place to be should your car run out of juice. Despite being famously free of speed restrictions, autobahns are ruthlessly efficient and governed by a number of serious laws. Run out of fuel, and you face a six-month driving ban or up to five years in prison.
6. Enjoy a drink behind the wheel in Costa Rica – it’s legal!
Provided you don’t reach your destination in a boozy stupor, necking a beer behind the wheel is perfectly legal in Costa Rica. Famous for its natural beauty and chaotic road network, the authorities of this Central American country are happy to turn blind eye to boozing motorists – incredible.
7. It’s illegal to start a car with someone beneath it Denmark
For us Brits, checking beneath our car for human activity is frankly unheard of. In Denmark however, road safety officials have thought of every eventuality – making it a legal requirement to check for people beneath your car before starting the engine.
8. Always park on the uneven side of the street in Spain
Here’s a whacky one for you: in some Spanish cities, drivers are only permitted to park on the side of the street on which houses bear uneven numbers. The logic? We’re struggling here.
9. Monday driving ban in Manila
You’ve plucked up the courage to drive the streets of Manila in the Philippines and are ready to hit the hectic roads. But wait – it’s Monday. If your registration plate ends in 1 or 2, you’re banned from driving today.
10. Stay away from pedestrians in Singapore
Come within fifty feet of a pedestrian in Singapore and expect a whopping fine as well as several angry catcalls from the rambler in question. The city is cleverly designed to keep motorists well away from pedestrians, and has one of the smoothest and most efficient road networks in the world.
Flabbergasted by the world’s foolishness? The next time you complain about receiving a speeding ticket, spare a thought for the unfortunate souls stranded on the autobahn or caught with a mucky car in Moscow.