Driving Abroad : Rules & Laws to remember
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  • Crazy Road Laws from around the World
  • 19 June 2017
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    Crazy Road Laws from around the World

    Heading abroad any time soon? Taking or hiring a car? We've had a look at some of the more unusual road laws from around the world to help keep you in the know!

The summer holidays are round the corner and some of you will inevitably have some time abroad coming up! And, of course, for some of you, your holiday time is not dictated by term times and you will have something overseas planned too! Well, presumably a lot of you will be requiring transport and will either be hiring a car on arrival or, for those of you crossing the channel etc, taking your own vehicle. Either way, laws are laws and there will be some procedures with which to drive by that may differ from home. We are all aware (or so we hope?!) that many countries drive on the other side of the road, actually we are one of very few that drive on the left, but that’s not where the difference ends.


We’ve had a look at some of the more ‘out of the ordinary’ automotive practices from around the globe and put them together in this equally informative and sometimes surprising article. Enjoy!

United Kingdom

It’s becoming increasingly popular for holidaymakers to explore closer to home, whether this be a camping trip in the highlands, a rambling on the coast or an all-inclusive holiday camp all of them inevitably include some travel. So, let’s start closer to home and have a look at some of the not so known laws which apply to us in the UK!


One to remember in the British winter (and summer) is that it is illegal to splash a pedestrian with your car! So, keep an eye out on those wet roads!

It is a generally acknowledged thing that urinating in public is against the law, even when nature's call is a it’s loudest. Should you be travelling in your vehicle though, there is a slight loophole… if you do what you need to do at the right rear wheel whilst keeping one hand on the car you  may be in the clear!


And here’s one just to keep as a ‘fun fact’, no it’s not driving related but it’s a particularly memorable one… It is illegal to handle a salmon in suspicious circumstances. There, that's the only non-driving related one we’ll include, promise.


Popping across the Channel you’ll be surprised to find some very different road laws.


Firstly, unless you have a number plate that displays the GB symbol you’ll need to display a GB sticker…


In France, drivers of every vehicle including cars and motorbikes must carry their own  breathalyser! And if you decide to waive this and do happen to be pulled over you will face an €11 fine… yes, it’s not much but we’d recommend getting one. If not for peace of mind then perhaps for the mere fact you can check if you’re over the limit? This law is here for good reason, not only does it cut down on the number of drunk drivers, it also helps to cut costs to the government which are incurred during these types of traffic stops.

Another law in France which you may not be familiar with is the law that children under 10 may not sit in the front seat without a special child restraint. There are some exceptions to this rule though such as, if the vehicle has no back seats, the back seat has no seat belts or if the back seats are already occupied with children under 10.



One of the things that Germany is most famous for is it’s very different approach to motoring and they are the hosts of the famous Autobahn. The Autobahn is the federal controlled-access highway system in Germany and though most of it has an advisory speed limit of 81 mph there is actually no speed limit enforced. A law that does apply to this stretch of road is the fact that it is highly illegal to stop for anything other than an emergency, and no, running out of fuel does not count as an emergency or an acceptable reason! It is counted as negligence and you would face a really hefty fine for endangering others through your oversight. So, if you think you’ll be finding yourself speeding down the Autobahn make sure you are well and truly fuelled up!


Drinking and driving is, of course, illegal, but in Macedonia the authorities have taken this rule slightly further! If you appear to be under the influence of alcohol you are not even allowed to sit it the front seat of the car! This banishment to the back seat is presumably down to the distractions that you may cause to the driver. Worth bearing in mind if you and a few friends hit the town here, if you’ve got a car full, not only will you need a designated driver but also a designated front seat passenger!




This is one of the more complicated rules, but, should you know what day of the month it is and the difference between an odd and even number you should be fine! In some Spanish cities there is a rule that, on some one way streets, cars must park on the side of the road with uneven house numbers on uneven dates of the month and vice versa… So be mindful of the house numbers and what the date is when in Spain!

Another law in Spain, that’s not so strange, is that anyone needing glasses to correct their vision is legally obliged to have a spare pair in their car at all times (helps you to see the house numbers). This law is of nation-wide ordinance and it is up to the discretion of the police officer as to whether you should get a ticket.


This is one that is kind of understandable but also super strict! In Cyprus drivers who unnecessarily remove a hand from the steering wheel can face some serious fines. Apparently it’s all down to an increase in accidents over the past few year, an increase that has actually led to it now being illegal to eat or drink behind the wheel! That’s right, you might be baking in the car but if you want a swig of that refreshing cold drink you’ll have to pull over in a safe place. In the UK eating and drinking behind the wheel is technically legal but, should there be an accident or your driving appears distracted whilst eating or drinking, you can be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.


The UK has made moves towards a complete smoking ban in recent years, so far, it is illegal to smoke in works vehicles but it is still fine to smoke in a private vehicle as long as there no passengers under the age of 18 present. In Greece, not so much. Enjoying a relaxing drive to Athens? Well, resist temptation! It is a prosecutable offence to light up whilst driving so, if you are facing a longer journey in Greece pull over somewhere safe, get yourself some patches or, even better, give up!  


This seems to be a bit of a no-brainer and not a law that you can imagine often gets challenged or broken… In Norway, trams have right of way. With a really impressive and ever-growing tram network in place, the public transport system is one that puts a lot of other countries to shame. That being said, it also means that a lot of drivers will have had to share the road with them, including visitors who may not be used to it. So, remember this one.


This is one of those laws that does make you question what incidents have occurred previously… Before setting off there is a standard check that all of us perform, some of us even take the time to check for cats under the car, well, in Denmark, there is a law that states that drivers must check for sleeping children!!!


In the UK it is a common occurrence to see amusing messages left in the dirty panels of vans and cars. From the innocent ‘clean me’ to the not so innocent doodles of all manner of things… well, should you soon be travelling to Bulgaria in your vehicle, your friend or passerby has wasted that artistic energy as you are required to have a mandatory car wash upon arrival! If you think this is harsh, on arrival to Costa Rica you have to have your car fumigated! We can only presume that this is to prevent any contamination, so it’s best to not get too attached to you ‘graffiti’!

So, let’s head further afield. As you imagine, things are about to get a bit more, well, out there!


You’ve made it all way to South East Asia and you’ve been smacked in the face by a wall of humidity as you exit the airport… chances are that you’ll be jumping into a tuk-tuk (Thai taxi) and bartering your way to your destination… well, quick question. Is your driver wearing his / her top? This is probably a yes. It’s hot enough to drive around without but, due to Thai law, drivers are required to keep their tops on at all times! This also applies to hiring a motorbike / scooter too!  Brits are renowned for whipping as many clothes off as possible should there be a hint of sunshine so it is worth bearing this in mind. Not only to save you from the imminent sunburn but also from a fine which, whilst it might not be hefty one, is proof that it is a serious law, so respect that! Passengers on the other hand, have your swimwear at the ready, you can wear as little as you like! It’s probably also good to remember that it is also illegal to leave your home without underwear so stripping down in the Thai heat will hopefully remain semi-decent!



Japan is known for its culture and, of course, it’s sushi, two really good reasons to visit! A rule worth remembering is one that we actually have in the UK and is all about having some common sense and courtesy. In Japan, it is illegal to splash a pedestrian with water whilst driving. June in Japan is known for its typhoons, which tend to leave a lot of surface water around, and it is in this month that the enforcement of this law goes up. So, planning to go to Japan in June? Keep an eye out for puddles and pedestrians!  




One that you would not know unless you were told about it  a law from Manila which means your license plate dictates what days of the week you can drive. Yes, you read that correctly! Only if your license plate ends with a 1 or a 2 can you drive on a Monday… So does that mean that, should you accidentally choose the wrong license plate, you only have to work a 4 day week?


South Africa


South Africa has a vast network of road systems, from coast hugging, mountain climbing meandering highways to not so road worthy tracks. According to statistics only one in five people have a car in South Africa and due to an integration of an impressive diversity in lifestyles there are still laws in place that help to protect livestock. There is a law in place across the whole country that gives livestock right of way. The law states “the driver of a vehicle on a public road shall stop such vehicle at the request or on the signal of leading or driving and bovine animal, horse, ass, mule, sheep, goat, pig, or ostrich on such road”. So, should you hire a car whilst visiting SA, this is definitely one to remember!

Saudi Arabia


This is probably one of the more well known laws. Women are forbidden from driving in Saudi Arabia. Whilst there is actually no written law that forbids women from driving, Saudi law requires that citizens use locally issued licenses whilst in the country  which will not be permitted to women. Women can own a car but not drive it… confusing. This also applies to visitors to the country. If you plan to visit Saudi Arabia this is definitely worth bearing in mind especially if you are a woman, there are a lot of limitations as to what a woman can do. All we can advise is that you to do your research before you go!  




America is often thought of as the ‘road trip destination’.Route 66, Pacific Coast Highway or the Overseas Highway are all great examples of popular road journeys that take you from, to and through some beautiful scenery. There are quite a few ‘out there’ laws to remember too!


One of the things to remember whilst meandering through the valleys or gliding down the highway, NO ALCOHOL! That’s a given right? Well this applies to even having an untouched 6 pack in your cabin. So, any alcoholic beverage, even if you don’t intend to drink it, store it in the boot!

These laws from the States do make you question what incident arose that actually warranted this response… In Alabama it is illegal to drive a car whilst blindfolded and in Montana it is illegal to have a sheep in your cab if it is unchaperoned… We’ll let you think about that one.


Another law worth remembering if you do make this trans-atlantic trip is that red lights don’t always mean what you’d think. Obviously the first reaction to a red light is to stop and wait for green? Wrong! In the USA you can turn right on a red, as long as the road is clear of pedestrians and oncoming traffic! 


Costa Rica


This is an interesting one and definitely not one that we’d condone trying! It is legal to drink behind the wheel as long as you stop before you get drunk. The problem with this law is that it’s universally accepted that drinking also inhibits decision making and judgement… two things that may be crucial in making this decision!




In Russia it is illegal to drive a dirty car… this does not just apply to the bodywork asking for humorous graffiti, it also applies to the interior of the vehicle! This law was originally put in place to help keep license plates visible during the colder months when grit (for roads) is used, as it is known for it’s capabilities to stick to and cover details on the car! If you’re visiting it is worth marking down your nearest car wash too as it is also illegal to clean your car anywhere that isn’t your home or a car wash! Somewhat problematic!

Various - And here are some laws that apply to a variety of countries!



One of the old-school romantic images of travelling is the unplanned wander, the unknown and the adventure. Included in this is hitchhiking. Not knowing how or when you’ll get to your next destination and often not even sure where your next destination is. It’s all about being a free spirit. Well, in many countries the practice of hitchhiking is actually illegal! Presumably it’s all down to safety regulations and trying to stop people get themselves in, what could potentially be, a dangerous situation (have they not watched Hostel?). In Russia, for example, it is illegal to stick out your thumb or hold a cardboard sign, and it is also illegal to pick hitchhikers up! So, we’re afraid you’ll have to quench that wanderlust in a different way.



There are not normally strict laws where your lights are concerned, common sense dictates that if it is light outside you don’t need them and if it is dark (you got it) you do! Well in some countries such as Sweden where daylight hours are short, you are required to have your lights on at all times! Even on a brighter day! This could be due to the fact that the actual hours of ‘proper’ light that are not in the portions of the day called dusk and dawn are small. Visibility at dusk and dawn is actually really poor, even though there is light, in making it law to have your lights on it helps avoid accidents that can be blamed solely on forgetting to switch your lights on in times of poor visibility. Not too hard to understand, in the UK we are seeing a rapid increase in the inclusion of daytime running lights included as standard on an array of car models, and this is all about making sure you are always visible!




While in some countries use of your horn is obligatory, in many countries, including the UK horns are banned at nights and in built up areas! So, no matter how frustrated you get at that driver who hasn’t noticed traffic is moving again or that rogue pigeon who appears to have become blind to oncoming traffic, if it’s after 11pm or before 7am and you’re in a built up area you are not allowed to sound your horn!

So, there you have it!


Make sure you are up do your homework before setting off on your next adventure!

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