10 Wacky Traffic Rules from Around the World
by Mary Wimmer
While you might be a great driver in Canada, road rules in other countries could be enough to drive you crazy. Converting imperial to metric measurements just might be the least of your concerns when you’re faced with one-way roads changing directions at certain hours of the day (as some do in Bangkok), or when parking on the side of the road is illegal, like it is almost everywhere in Japan.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, read on for some truly head-scratching road rules from around the world:
Visiting Australia? If you happen to find yourself in need of a taxi in Brisbane, Cairns or the Gold Coast, make sure that the one that you’re in is carrying a bale of hay in its trunk – it’s the law in the province of Queensland. This strange rule harkens back to days of yore when a cab consisted of a horse and cart…and despite being out-of-date, rumour has it that it has never been repealed.
Aside from being the name of a popular song, “Never on Sunday” is also the general consensus in Switzerland when it comes to washing your vehicle. Known famously for its neutrality, the citizens of this country are decidedly not that when it comes to noise pollution and protecting the environment – two possible reasons why washing your car on a Sunday will earn you more than a few frowns from neighbours nearby.
Need to a hang a left? If you’re driving in South Korea, keep in mind that doing so is against the law, unless it is indicated that you are permitted to do so. Look out for traffic lights with specific left turn lights, as the law is more enforced these days than not.
Check your license plate number and the time of day before you head out for a drive in traffic-ridden Manila, where vehicles with plates ending in the numbers one or two are forbidden from operating on city roads on Mondays between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Feel like a little light music? If you happen to find yourself in a taxi in Finland, you can be sure that your cabbie is paying a little extra for that ear candy. Finnish law dictates that royalty fees must be paid to the Finnish Copyright Society in taxis transporting paying customers.
If you’re feeling peckish in Cyprus, remember to snack before or after your drive – not during. That’s because eating and drinking (even taking a sip of water) while driving in the country is illegal. You could be on the hook to pay a fine of more than a $100 if caught, so hold off on picking up that drive-through grub.
Be sure to fill up on gas before heading out on Germany’s Autobahn. That’s because pulling over is illegal on the world-famous highway that has no federally-mandated speed limit, so if you have to pull over because you’re running out of fuel you are actually breaking the law.
Need to book a rental car in Bermuda? You’re out of luck. As a traffic calming measure, rental cars have been banned on the island nation, which means that tourists travelling with luggage have only one option to get to their hotel: taking a cab. Since travelling by bus while carrying luggage is prohibited, a taxi is the best – and only – route to go.
Though motorists in other countries may drive you bonkers with the way they drive, whether its aggressive maneuvering or forgetful signalling, be mindful that laying on the horn may not be the best course of action. This is truer in some cities than in others: consider the municipality of Shanghai, where it is actually against the law for drivers to honk their horns.
And speaking of the horn, if you’re in Sweden you should probably reconsider honking to an oncoming vehicle that has its lights on during the day. The other driver hasn’t forgotten to turn his or her lights off, in fact he or she is actually on the right side of the law: motorists there are legally required to keep their lights on 24 hours a day, rain or shine…even in June, when the sun never sets in certain parts of the country!
Aren’t you glad you live – and drive – in Canada?