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12 Bizarre Driving Laws from Around the World

The flag of Bulgaria

When driving abroad it's worth remembering that each different country has its own slightly different laws, and using the roads without knowing what they are is asking for trouble. Here's a run down of the strangest driving laws from around the world, ranging from slightly quirky to downright bizarre:


In Bulgaria, it's illegal not to have a fire extinguisher. It's probably a good idea to have one anyway, especially if you're driving an unfamiliar hire car.

Flag of Cyprus


In Cyprus, it's illegal to shake your fist at another driver (or make any other hand gesture). A fine can be incurred for raising your hands from the steering wheel when you don't need to – though sometimes it can feel like you really need to. Remember: use your words.

French flag


France is the country with the breathalyser law, and you must have one in your car at all times. There's no punishment for not having one, but they cost a single Euro, and looking like an ignorant tourist is a recipe for annoying police.

German flag


If you're travelling on Germany's famous Autobahn, make sure you don't run out of petrol. It’s against the law to stop 'unnecessarily' on the Autobahn, and the Germans consider an empty fuel tank avoidable and unnecessary.

Japanese flag


In Japan, it's illegal to be a passenger to a drunk driver. Frankly, if you need the law to tell you this is a bad idea, then you should steer well clear of any moving vehicle. It's also illegal to splash a pedestrian by driving through a puddle. Intentional or not, this could actually land you with a fine.

Russian flag


In Russia, you can be fined up to 2000 roubles (£33) for driving a dirty vehicle. This seems a little harsh, especially in a country where you can legally drive an armoured personnel carrier down the road. Presumably it would have to be clean

Spanish flag


In Spain, If you wear prescription glasses, you'll need to have a spare pair in your car at all times. It's also illegal to drive wearing flip-flops. No great loss there.

Swedish flag


In Sweden, it's mandatory to have your headlights on at all times, day and night.

Turkish flag


Turkey require all cars to be stocked with a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and a reflective triangle. Try to fit in some of your own luggage too.

With most of these laws, you can at least see where the lawmakers are coming from. There are, of course, countries with seemingly bizarre driving laws, which make absolutely no sense whatsoever:

Flag of Thailand


It's illegal to drive topless in Thailand. Perhaps to avoid lots of people with seatbelt-shaped sunburn?

Saudi Arabian flag

Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, women aren't allowed to drive at all.

United States of America Stars and Stripes


In the US, the individual states have various inane laws. One way streets in Alabama don't apply if you have a lantern on your car. Jumping from a car at 65mph is illegal in California. Minnesotans aren't allowed to cross state borders whilst wearing a live duck. The list goes on.

Of all the different rules of the road, though, the USA takes it for the sheer scariness of their laws. In the USA, if a police car pulls you over and you get out of your car without being told, the police are allowed to kill you. If you reach for your license without being told, the police are allowed to kill you. Scratching your nose during an American traffic stop might genuinely cost you your life. If you get pulled over in the US, for goodness sake, keep your hands on the wheel and be polite.

So there you have it, the laws of the lands – mostly sensible, sometimes strange, and sometimes just concerning. Hopefully this list will help keep your time abroad fun and relaxing. Happy travels!