Driver’s education classes teach the importance of red stop signs and double yellow lines. But over the decades since the car became America’s main mode of transportation, a great many traffic laws have made their way onto the books, far more than you’ll ever learn in a classroom.
For instance, do you know how many feet from a passing train you must stop your car? Are you transporting anything in your vehicle that would require you to come to a complete stop at every railroad crossing? Or how about tinted windows? State laws are quite specific on the matter. Some allow it, others require proof from a doctor that it’s medically required, and others prohibit it altogether.
Most traffic laws make sense—they are, after all, designed with safety in mind. But some driving rules are just truly bizarre. Such as:
Keep it clean
In Minnetonka, Minnesota, driving a vehicle with dirty tires is a “nuisance that affects public peace, safety, and general welfare.”
Lay off the horn
In Arkansas, it’s illegal to honk after 9:00 PM wherever cold drinks or sandwiches are served. And in University City, Missouri, honking someone else’s horn is breaking the law.
Be kind to animals
Do not tether your dog to the roof when driving in Alaska. Do not beep at cows in Oxford, Mississippi. Do not ride camels on the highway in Nevada. Do not drive with a sheep in your truck in Montana (unless you have a chaperone). And, when in Massachusetts, do not drive with a gorilla in the back seat. (Turning the tables: it’s illegal for a pet to molest a vehicle in Fort Thomas, Kentucky.)
Cars are for driving only
In Delaware and parts of New York, it’s illegal to disrobe while driving. And Oklahoma made it illegal to read a comic book while behind the wheel.
Beware the unopened container law
Transporting a six-pack to your home in Scituate, Rhode Island, is a major feat because driving with a beer in your vehicle—even an unopened one—is against the law.
In Oregon, it’s easier to take the bus
Only in Oregon can you be ticketed for leaving your car door open too long. Using your car to prove your physical endurance is a Class A traffic violation! Drivers must yield to pedestrians when driving on the sidewalk. Most importantly, drivers may not carry a child on the “hood, fender, running board, or other external part of any motor vehicle”—unless it’s for a parade or the minor is strapped down like a piece of lumber.
California’s not much better
In Eureka, you may not use the highway as a bed. In Chico, it’s illegal to plant rutabagas on roadways. Glendale motorists are prohibited from jumping from a car traveling at 65 mph. Hermosa Beach declares it unlawful to spill salt on the road. And statewide, women may not drive while wearing a housecoat.
Meanwhile, inNew Jersey…
New Jersey drivers convicted of DUI are not permitted to have vanity plates. And most New Jersey drivers ignore the law that says they must honk before passing.
Bite your tongue!
Rockville, Maryland, will not tolerate obscenities yelled from a vehicle. When driving in Georgia, you may spit from a truck but don’t even think about doing it from a car or bus.
Be careful with cargo
In Hilton Head, South Carolina, it’s illegal to store trash in your vehicle. Topeka, Kansas, has laws preventing the transport of dead poultry.
No shooting while driving
Hunting from cars is illegal in Connecticut. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, it’s against the law to shoot any game other than whales from a moving vehicle.
On Sundays, you may not sell a car in Indiana nor buy one in Maine. And in Denver, Colorado, it’s illegal to drive a black car on a Sunday!
Keep to the road, please
Children in Dublin, Georgia, are safer now that it’s illegal to drive through a playground. North Carolina is covering all bases with its laws preventing driving on sidewalks, driving through cemeteries, and playing in traffic.
It’s illegal to run out of gas in Youngstown, Ohio.
Watch where you’re going
Fortunately for everybody in the state of Alabama, it’s illegal to drive while blindfolded.
The bottom line
Just because you haven’t heard of a law doesn’t mean you can’t get a ticket for breaking it. Take time to study the traffic laws in your state and be the best driver you can be.