On the spot traffic fines for minor driving offences such as hogging the middle lane (perhaps not minor to some people), have been in force for a couple of weeks, and so far (knock on wood), the impact has been minimal. Whether that is down to drivers diligently avoiding all but the left hand lane, or police officers being confused as to what point overtaking slowly (within the speed limit, of course) becomes lane hogging, is not clear. But, what is clear is that their implementation has certainly divided opinions. On one hand there is a the clear benefit of promoting safe driving, but on the other it can lead to unnecessary fines for all manner of ambiguous offences such as driving too close to the car in front (how else do you let them know that they’re going too slowly?!), or overtaking and pushing into a queue of traffic (admittedly a lot quicker than simply sitting at the back of the queue).
While for some the idea of on the spot fines for middle lane hoggers seems unnecessarily strict, why not count yourself lucky that some of these other traffic laws aren’t currently in effect on UK roads:
- You might get turned away from the pub or your local Tesco’s if you wander in without a shirt on, but in Thailand it is actually illegal to ride a motorbike topless. Considering the brisk British air, it’s no surprise this isn’t problem enough for it to be law in the UK. In Thailand the police are adamant against it, and can issue on the spot fines.
- Due to heavy traffic in the Philippines’ capital Manila, there are number plate based restrictions on what cars can drive on what roads. Cars with licence plates ending in 1 or 2 aren’t allowed on certain roads between 7AM and 7PM on Mondays, those ending in 3 or 4 on Tuesday, 5 or 6 on Wednesday, 7 or 8 on Thursday, and 9 or 0 on Friday. Confused much?
- It is reportedly law that you cannot wash your car in the street in Switzerland. Something which would particularly upset you if you lived in Moscow.
- In Moscow, driving a dirty car is a infraction worthy of an on the spot, £65 fine. Some say this is just an excuse for the police use to over-ticket drivers, but considering the public’s perception of just how grubby a car has to be in order to be classed as dirty (according to a newspaper poll they decided it was if dirt was obscuring either the number plate, or even the driver), it may be a law enforced with the public’s best interests at heart.
- In Japan – a country of pristine cleanliness and politeness – it should come as no surprise that splashing pedestrians is a finable offence. Labelled as “muddy driving”, splashing through a puddle and messing a pedestrian could leave you with a £40 fine.
- It is illegal to run out of petrol on the Autobahn in Germany. This one actually makes sense – if you can’t understand the fundamentals of making your car move (i.e. filling it with fuel), you shouldn’t be driving. Especially not on the Autobahn.
- Birds, rather than cars, have the right of way in Utah, USA. There doesn’t seem to be any discernible reasoning for this one, nor exactly how it is enforced, but them’s the rules.
- Taxis operating in Finland aren’t allowed to play music in their cabs unless they pay royalties. The music industry might be struggling, but making taxi drivers pay royalties so that they don’t have to struggle through small talk with rushed passengers seems like a step in the wrong direction.
- In London, it is illegal to drive cows down the road between 10AM and 7PM. Unless, that is, that person has prior consent from the commissioner of police.
- If you’re behind the wheel in Alabama, USA, make sure you’re not blindfolded or risk getting a considerable fine. The fact that driving while blindfolded needs to be made illegal, rather than just something common sense steers you clear of, is worrying enough to put you off driving in Alabama full stop.