As drivers, we all know the basic traffic laws, such as obeying traffic signals, don't speed, and giving way to pedestrians, but did you know there are some truly bizarre road rules in different parts of the world?
From leaving your headlights on all the time and controlled times on the road to hefty fines for using your car horn and for running out of fuel, no matter how strange these road rules, they seem to be in place with good intent.
Illegal to Break Down or Run Out of Fuel on Highway in Germany
When it comes to weird road rules, Germany’s ‘Bundesautobahn’ – which translates to ‘Autobahn’ – certainly has its fair share.
The country’s federal controlled-access highway system is one of the longest motorway networks in the world, stretching a total length of about 13,192 kilometres, and is famously known for being one of the few places in the world where there are very few official speed limits.
However, there's another unusual regulation that you may not be aware of… It is illegal to stop, break down, or complete a U-turn on the Autobahn (except for in an emergency).
If you happen to run out of fuel on the Autobahn, it can lead to severe consequences, as running out of fuel is considered "driver negligence" and can result in hefty fines or even a driving ban.
This may seem strict but is crucial for safety as the Autobahn is a high-speed freeway, as an unexpected stop can cause serious car accidents and traffic congestion.
So, while the Autobahn may be a dream destination for drivers, safety should always be a top priority!
Number Plates Dictate Times Drivers Can use Roads in the Philippines
The Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP), or the Number Coding scheme, is a traffic decongestion scheme that bans private and public utility vehicles from using roads in the Philippines during certain times.
The UVVRP aims to ease traffic congestion by restricting vehicles that can drive through public roads. This is based on their license plates.
Section 1 of the Memorandum Regulation No.96-005 prohibits both private and public vehicles from using the roads in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region of the Philippines, based on the last number of a license plate.
Under the current UVVRP, the scheme runs from 7am to 8pm on weekdays, with license plates ending with a specific number being banned on certain days.
Licence plates ending with the number:
- 1 or 2 are banned on Monday
- 3 or 4 are banned on Tuesday
- 5 or 6 are banned on Wednesday
- 7 or 8 are banned on Thursday
- 9 or 0 are banned on Friday
The ban is lifted on Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 3pm, and under current laws, all cars be on the road at any time on Saturdays, Sundays, and on public holidays.
There are, of course, vehicles exempt from the ban, which include:
- Cargo trucks and other heavy vehicles – whether empty or loaded
- Emergency vehicles – ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars
- Military vehicles
- Diplomatic vehicles with diplomatic plates
- Government vehicles with government plates
- Official media vehicles
- Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) accredited tow trucks
- Vehicles delivering perishable goods in commercial quantity
- Department of Tourism (DOT) accredited tourism vehicles
Car Horn Use Can Have a Hefty Penalty in Australia
If you use your horn to say goodbye to a friend, or to beep a car that just cut you off in traffic, you’re breaking the law in Australia.
Using your car horn is only appropriate in specific situations, and if you use it in any other circumstances, you may face a hefty fine!
The reasoning behind this seemingly odd rule is quite simple; each of these situations represents an example of road rage, so if you honk your horn, it may be mistaken for an emergency.
Indicating, the underlying issue this law is trying to stop is actually road rage, as driving in an angry state can risk your chance of a crash dramatically.
You must not use your horn or any other warning device, unless:
- There’s a need to warn other road users about the position of your vehicle
- There’s a need to warn others that your vehicle is approaching
- There’s a need to warn animals to get off the road
- The warning device is part of an anti-theft or alcohol interlock device
The penalties for honking your horn at the wrong time vary greatly by state. As of March 2023, the maximum potential punishments in each state are:
New South Wales
20 penalty units, equating to AUD $2,200.
20 penalty units, equating to AUD $2,875.
1 penalty unit, equating to AUD $184.92.
1 penalty unit, equating to AUD $50.
Australian Capital Territory
20 penalty units, equating to AUD $5,500.
No Drinking (Anything) While Driving in Cyprus
Whether you’re on the road with your morning coffee or are simply parched – it’s going to have to wait.
In Cyprus, it’s illegal for a driver to take a sip of water, eat a few greasy chips from the drive-thru, or munch on some lunch.
In fact, it’s illegal to remove either hand from the steering wheel while driving, as the law states both hands must always remain on the steering wheel.
- Driving with non-free hands (any other object besides a mobile phone): €85 fine (nearly AUD $140) and 1-3 Penalty Points
- Driving with non-free hands (mobile phone): €150 fine (nearly AUD $250) and 2-4 Penalty Points
If the offence recurred within three years, the penalties are doubled.
In Cyprus 2021, a total of 52 people were killed in reported traffic accidents in 2019.
In terms of mortality rate, there were 59 road fatalities per million people, which is above the European Union (EU) average of 51.
Additionally, the paper states from 2009 until 2019 the number of road fatalities in Cyprus has declined by only 13 per cent while the EU average has fallen by 23 per cent.
Don’t Shoot Animals From a Vehicle in Tennessee, Unless…
In Tennessee, it’s illegal to “chase, hunt, or kill any wild birds, wild animals or wild fowl” from a vehicle…
Unless you are “totally and permanently confined to a wheelchair,” in which case, you can be exempt from this law and may hunt or kill any wildlife from a stationary vehicle during the lawful hunting seasons.
Under section 70-4-109 of the Tennessee Code, this includes chasing, hunting, and killing from “any craft propelled by electric, gasoline, steam or sail power, or airplane or hydroplane or from any automobile or motor vehicle”…
Unless otherwise provided by law, rule, and regulation or by proclamation.
Breaking this law results in a Class C misdemeanour, which carries the mildest punishment of them all in Tennessee.
Should you be convicted, you could spend up to 30 days in jail, be fined up to USD $50, or both.
So, while this law is in place, it seems authorities believe breaking this law carries minor significance when looking at the currently enforced repercussions.
No Splashing Pedestrians With Water While Driving in Japan
No one likes to be splashed by water while walking on a footpath, but it’s arguable those in Japan dislike it the most.
Under Article 71 (i) of the Japanese Road Traffic Act, it is against the law for drivers to splash water – whether it's from rain, a puddle, mud on the roadside, or a minor road spill – onto another road user or pedestrian.
The law states drivers must have: “mudflaps on the vehicle or streetcar, drive at a reduced speed, or take other measures so as not to cause a nuisance to others by scattering mud, dirty water, and other materials when driving through mud or puddles.”
Carelessness is not taken lightly in Japan, and If this law is broken, drivers can be fined up to ¥7,000 (about AUD $80).
So, if you’re planning a getaway overseas it’s a bright idea to do your research on the local road rules to avoid costly fines, jail time, and road incidents.
Headlights Must Stay on During the Day in Switzerland
Switzerland’s 741.01 Federal Road Traffic Act states it is compulsory to drive with lights on during the day.
This means dipped (low beam) headlights are always mandatory, even in the middle of the brightest day, including for mopeds and motorcycles.
If your car is a right-hand drive, you must use black triangles on your headlights to avoid stunning other drivers.
The Federal Road Traffic Act states:
- Motor vehicles in motion must be permanently lit; other vehicles should only be used between dusk and dawn and in the event of poor visibility.
- Stopped motor vehicles and non-motorized vehicles with parallel wheels must be illuminated between dusk and dawn as well as in the event of poor visibility, except in parking spaces or in areas where the lighting is enough.
- The Federal Council may, in certain cases, provide for the replacement of lights with reflectors.
- Vehicles will not be fitted with lights or reflecting devices that are red in colour towards the front or white in colour towards the rear. The Federal Council may authorize exceptions.
- Lighting will be used in such a way as not to dazzle anyone unnecessarily.
The law came into force on January 1, 2014, as part of Via Sicura – a package of rules put in place to reduce motor vehicle accident injuries. This law helps ensure vehicles are always visible, especially during winter when some areas have limited daylight hours.
If drivers do not have their lights on, they can be fined under CHF 40, fine number 323.