We’re now in the middle of the summer holiday season so you may be heading abroad on holiday and exploring by car. You might find driving on the right and navigating roundabouts in the opposite direction a breeze, but there is far more to driving abroad than that. For example, if you splash a pedestrian with your car in Japan you’ll be hit with a fine and if you take your dog on a jolly to Italy, they must be fastened in with a seatbelt.
With more than 66 million road trips taken by Brits every year, it’s worth brushing up on some of the driving customs from around the world. To help you, I’ve listed some of the more unusual driving laws below.*
PJs not Permitted
We all do it. You’re hungover, craving a McDonalds, so you head to the drive-through in your dressing gown to pick up a sausage Mcmuffin. In California, it’s prohibited for women to drive in their dressing gown so you’d have to make your own, or better yet, send your fella out to pick it up while you snooze and drink copious amounts of coffee.
Warning in Memphis
In Memphis it is illegal for a woman to drive a car alone, unless there is a man either running or walking in front of the vehicle waving a red flag. It’s also mandatory for a woman to have a long stick on the front of her car to prod said man in the back while he’s waving the flag (I wish!)
When driving abroad, the car can become the hottest place on earth and it can be tempting to strip off to deal with the heat. Do so at your own risk in Thailand, where it’s illegal for both men and women to drive topless. But great news for women in Kentucky – you can drive in your bikini, as long as you have a weapon for self-defence or two police officers accompanying you. In Germany, a car counts as a ‘private space’ so it’s perfectly lawful to drive completely naked. Just make sure you don’t run out of fuel – it might be pretty nippy in the nude on the autobahn!
As drivers we are always stopping for pedestrians to cross the road. In Beijing, there is no such consideration, with a law that states that vehicles must not stop at pedestrian crossings. I’d recommend at least a fortnight’s stay and eyes in the back of your head as you’ll spend half your time waiting to cross the road!
Spot the Dog (he’s on the roof)
Going camping? Car full of kids, sleeping bags, pots and pans and loads of unnecessary stuff we always take with us so there’s no room for the dog? No bother, I hear you say, we’ll just stick him on the roof. He’ll love it – the wind in his hair, tongue hanging out, having the time of his life. Not in Alaska where it’s illegal to tie a dog to the roof of your vehicle. You’ll have to leave him at the kennels this year. Gutted.
Sugar Boost (and a hefty fine!)
Fancy a sugar boost? You can’t go far wrong with a Dunkin Donut. Pull up outside and run in for your quick fix? Not in the US state of Maine! You’ll be slapped with a fine if you park in front of a Dunkin Donuts. Ah well, the walk from the car park will work up an appetite and make room for another.
You’re on a long car journey, your mate is playing Adele’s back catalogue and regaling you with breakup stories of their own. I know it might be tempting to jump from the moving car at 65mph to escape the mental torture but in California it’s illegal. You could end up in prison with an experience for an Adele-esque album of your own. Or you could just grin and bear it and think of that Margarita waiting for you on the beach.
* The validity and implementation of these rules are questionable!