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Debunked: eight weird driving laws from around the world

Carlton Boyce / 13 April 2016 ( 14 June 2018 )

Is driving a dirty car illegal in Russia? We look at some of the strange driving laws in other countries and bust the myths that just are not true.

Do large animals really have the right of way on South African roads?
Why did the elephant cross the road?

We’ve already looked at some of the rules of the road in the United Kingdom that you may not be aware of, and we thought it might be nice to look at some of the weird driving laws from around the world that aren’t necessarily true.

As Fox Mulder of The X-Files says: the truth is out there!

Driving a dirty car in Russia is Illegal

Contrary to widespread belief, it isn’t illegal to drive a dirty car in Russia. However, it is an offence to drive with a dirty number plate, just like it is here in the UK.


10 laws UK motorists forget or ignore

Drivers in Costa Rica can drink behind the wheel, as long as they aren’t drunk

The Internet will tell you that drivers in Costa Rica can drink alcohol while driving, as long as they aren’t actually drunk. 

This isn’t true, and the laws around drink driving are as stringently enforced as they are here.


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Passengers can be fined in Japan if the driver is drunk

The laws regulating drink driving in Japan are very strict, and a passenger in a car that is being driven by a drunk driver is committing an offence for allowing them to get behind the wheel in the first place.


Would you pass your driving test if you took it now? Take our quiz to find out.

Women cannot drive a car in Saudi Arabia

It is widely claimed that women can own, but cannot drive, a car in Saudi Arabia. 

In fact, while there is an element of social pressure from some who claim that it shouldn’t be allowed, there is no law that actually prohibits it.


In South Africa drivers must stop for animals crossing the road

The Internet is awash with articles that claim that drivers must stop to allow large animals to cross the road in South Africa and that they will be fined if they don’t.

While I can’t find any evidence that the law forces you to stop to let them pass, common sense dictates that it is the sensible thing to do, given the risk to you and your car if you don’t…


Do you really have to pay parking fines on private land?

It’s illegal to tie your dog to the roof of your car in Alaska

This one isn’t as silly as it sounds, as the law encompasses tying your dog to the bed of your pickup too. 

But why would anyone want to tie their dog to the roof rack, I hear you cry? I don’t know either, but given that Mitt Romney was alleged to have tied the crate containing his dog to his roof rack in the past, I guess  the law is designed to prevent that, rather than having Fido sitting up there roof-surfing.


Have you been on an amazing road trip that you would like to share with us? We're looking for fantastic journeys our readers have been on for a new feature in the magazine. Do email with details of where you went and when, and any great pictures, along with your recommendations for places that other road users can check out on the route.

It’s illegal to give a gorilla a lift in your car in Massachusetts

A favourite Internet claim is that it is illegal to give a gorilla a lift in your car in the American state of Massachusetts. 

While it might not be a very sensible thing to do, there is no specific law prohibiting you from doing so, leaving you at risk of death or bodily injury rather than a fine from a police officer.


Motorists warned about scam notes left on car windscreens

Black cab drivers must carry a bale of hay

Finally, tourists to the UK are bewildered to discover that black cab drivers must carry a bale of hay in their cab, assuming, quite reasonably, that this is a hangover from Victorian times when cabs were horse-drawn. 

In fact, there is no such law, which I can’t help thinking is a shame.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.