If you think about it, there are a number of great reasons to travel and visit Europe. It’s no wonder that travel to Europe has been witnessing impressive growth recently. In fact, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Europe managed to record eight percent more internationals arrivals in 2017 when compared to arrivals in 2016.
Indeed, this part of the world makes for an interesting travel destination as it is rich in both history and culture. It also offers experiences that are unique to the area. Not to mention, there are a number of spectacular sites to see here. These include the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Big Ben in London, the Parthenon in Athens, and so much more.
There are so many places to see in various parts of Europe and for some people, there’s no better way to see them all than to go on a long road trip. After all, several European countries are merely separated by borders. Hence, so long as you have your passport, driving from country to country should be fine.
Nonetheless, you should also know that in Europe, driving can be quite a challenge. That’s because in this part of the world, there are certain driving laws imposed which may surprise you. They concern traffic flow, parking, and even a car’s actual maintenance. At the same time, it is also worth noting that failing to abide by these laws can result in a serious fine. Hence, you are better off keeping them in mind while you’re on the road in this continent.
To help you with the research, we have listed 25 of the strangest laws you would ever encounter while driving in Europe. Go over them carefully to stay out of trouble.
25 Breaking down on the Autobahn is considered illegal
The Autobahn in Germany is a rather spectacular roadway for those who like to drive their cars to the limit. Here, you can mostly drive with relative freedom. However, there are areas with a speed recommendation of 81 miles per hour. Furthermore, there may also be some driving restrictions in areas near construction sites and dangerous stretches of the road. Nonetheless, the Autobahn is great fun to drive along. If you should try doing this, however, you must know that breaking down on it is absolutely illegal. This is because your car is expected to be in good condition while it’s running at top speeds.
24 You are always required to drive with headlights on, even in daylight
It seems that in certain parts of Europe, headlights are always important. It doesn’t matter what time of day you are on the road. Even when there is bright sunlight up above, you still need to make sure your car’s headlights are on. Otherwise, you are going to be in serious trouble. According to a report from Express, you are required to keep your headlights turned on all the time when you are driving around the roads of Sweden. If you fail to do so, it is more than likely that you will be caught and fined. To this day, it is unclear if there is a logical reason for this rule.
23 Driving a dirty car is considered illegal
Sure, everyone appreciates a clean car. This is precisely why we tend to look up when we see a nice and shiny car driving by. In contrast, people cringe and even make fun of cars that are just incredibly dirty. In Europe, you don’t just get mocked and insulted when you drive around with a dirty car. Instead, you can also get in trouble with the law. In fact, according to a report from Express, driving around Russia with a dirty car will earn you a fine. This reportedly amounts to $38. Now, don’t you just wish that you cleaned your car instead?
22 Going to the car wash is not allowed on Sundays
While some parts of Europe are very strict regarding dirty cars on the road, there are also areas that are strict about your car-washing schedule. Specifically, they have a problem with you washing your car on a Sunday.
According to the website of Wilsons Automobiles & Coachworks Limited in the U.K., it is absolutely not allowed in Switzerland to wash your car on a Sunday. Apparently, this may have something to do with the need to keep noises down on this day of the week. According to a report from Destination Trips, you are also not allowed to slam your car door, do your laundry, or mow the lawn on Sundays, either.
21 Carrying a petrol can while driving is illegal
If you think about it, a petrol can be quite helpful. After all, this specialized container is capable of carrying at least five liters of fuel. On the other hand, bigger petrol cans have the capacity of carrying 20 liters of fuel. That means, in case you are in the middle of a long drive and your car runs low on gas, you can easily stop anywhere and refuel it.
Unfortunately, if you happen to be driving around in Portugal, you can get into trouble if you use your petrol can. In fact, according to a report from The Telegraph, carrying one in your car is illegal. Hence, you better hope you that you always have enough fuel in the tank when you drive out.
20 Filling up at the gas station with your radio on is illegal
Sure, fueling up at the gas station doesn’t really take much time. However, you may still have to wait a few minutes if there is a long queue ahead of you. To pass the time, you may find yourself doing a number of things. You can munch on a snack, chat with a passenger, play with your phone, or just listen to the radio. All of these options are fine. However, if you’re in Spain and it’s time for you to fill up your car, you better make sure you turn your radio off. According to the website Expactica, listening to your radio while fueling up is considered illegal in Spain. In fact, if you end up getting caught, you can be charged a fine of €91.
19 Parking on the different sides of the road is allowed, depending on the day of the month
When it comes to crowded streets, road congestion can be a serious concern. If left uncontrolled, motorists may choose to park their cars just anywhere and take off for a few hours. To keep this from happening, Spain has decided to come up with a rather unique parking scheme. According to the website Driving Tests, cars are only allowed to park on one side of the street if they are in a one-way street. However, the side that you can park on depends on the day of the month and which side of the street has the even-number houses. Indeed, the parking mechanics there are rather strange.
18 You must always carry an additional pair of glasses
In Europe, nobody minds if you need to drive with your glasses on. After all, driving glasses can help make the road ahead much more visible. Not to mention, glasses also allow you to read road signs better so that you are able to drive more safely. If you happen to be driving around Spain, however, do take note that there is an additional rule for motorists who drive with their glasses on. That is, they have to see to it that there is always an extra pair inside the car, whether it’s tucked inside a compartment or it’s resting in the passenger seat beside you.
17 A self-test breathalyzer is required
Without a doubt, drunk driving is a problem on roads all over the world. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 29 fatalities every day in the U.S. due to a crash that involves an impaired motorist. Hence, many organizations have been calling for more responsible driving around the world. The core message is to avoid drinking and driving. In Europe, France is taking things one step further by requiring all of its motorists to carry their own breathalyzer kit. It seems that they are encouraging their citizens to become more responsible drivers by testing their own levels regularly.
16 Front seat passengers must not be visibly impaired drinks
Among a lot of societies, it is common for revelers to name someone as the designated driver if they are planning to go out for drinks. If you were chosen to be the designated driver, you are not allowed to have sauce of any kind. That means no beer, cocktails, wine, or even jello shots. Your system must be clean so that your friends can be sure that your head is clear when you drive them home. For a lot of countries, this is absolutely an acceptable practice. For one country in Europe, however, this practice is still not enough. In fact, according to the website Driving Tests, the front seat passenger must also be sober if you are driving around Macedonia.
15 Driving without a shirt or while wearing flip-flops is subject to a fine
Some would argue that it helps to be as comfortable as possible when you’re driving. After all, you want to feel relaxed when you’re behind the wheel. This way, you are free from distractions, allowing to keep your eyes on the road at all times. This, in turn, makes you a safer driver. However, if you happen to live in Spain, know that there are clear limits to how comfortable you can get when driving around. According to website Expactica, it is absolutely not allowed to drive around without wearing a shirt. At the same time, you also can’t drive barefoot or while wearing a pair of flip-flops. If you get caught doing so, you will be charged a €200 fine.
14 Drivers can be fined for making derogatory signs and using abusive language
In certain traffic situations, it’s really hard not to lose your cool. For instance, there are times when another driver cuts you off without warning. Meanwhile, there are also instances where a driver may be honking at you constantly for no apparent reason. Both of these situations can certainly result in you losing your temper. And as a result, you may flash some derogatory signs and even use some abusive language out loud.
In some countries, this is not illegal. After all, you simply want to express yourself and move on. However, if you happen to be driving around Germany, it helps to have better control of your temper. According to a report from The Telegraph, making derogatory signs and using abusive language is absolutely not allowed. In fact, you may even be subject to a fine.
13 Driving with an arm or a hand outside is not allowed
Without a doubt, there are drivers who simply can’t help it: they just have to roll down their windows and rest an arm by the door while driving. Meanwhile, those who are also listening to music may also move their hands outside as they enjoy the beat. While this may be allowed when you’re driving in the U.S., it can cause problems if you are on the road in Spain. According to the website Expatica, driving with an arm or hand outside the vehicle is not allowed. In fact, you may receive a fine of as much as €100 if you do this. Moreover, the website explained, “Article 18 of the General Traffic Law states that the driver and passengers should always maintain a sensible position inside the vehicle.”
12 The driver’s ears should remain visible while on the road
Typically, when a person is driving, there is a great deal of reliance on one’s eyes and hands. The eyes are responsible for scanning the road ahead and making sure that there is no object, vehicle or person in the car’s path. Meanwhile, the hands are responsible for controlling the steering wheel and making sure that car stays on its intended course. If the hand should move unconsciously, it could result in an unintended lane departure or worse, a sudden collision. In Spain, however, ears seem to hold a special significance. In fact, according to the website Expatica, a driver’s ears should remain visible at all times. Otherwise, the motorist can be in serious trouble.
11 You can be fined for splashing a pedestrian
Without a doubt, pedestrians do not appreciate being splashed with mud and dirt. And to protect pedestrians, the U.K. government has decided to impose a law against this. In fact, any motorist caught splashing a passenger can be charged with driving without reasonable consideration. With regard to this, a spokesperson for The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents also told The Telegraph, “This would be ‘careless driving/driving without due care and consideration’. Pedestrians could report any instances to the police, especially if they managed to record the number plate.” Anyone who splashes a pedestrian can be charged with a hefty fine of £5,000.
10 You are required to check for children that are hiding underneath your car before driving out
Sure, it’s a given fact that children like to play. In fact, they will play whether you put them inside or outside the home. Perhaps this is why locals are asked to locate children first before they drive their cars in Denmark. In fact, according to Wilsons Automobiles & Coachworks Limited, motorists are required to check underneath their car for children before they are allowed to drive off. It seems that children there enjoy a game of hide-and-seek just a little too much. Because of this, it’s quite possible that they turned your car into a hiding spot.
9 Hazard lights must also be on when backing up
Typically, when a car backs up, a certain set of lights come on. These inform other motorists around you that you are backing up. In response, other drivers can do a number of things. First, they can stop the car and let you back up. On the other hand, they can also move faster to avoid you. In any case, we can all tell that the other driver is aware that there is a car backing up. Nonetheless, there are some parts of Europe where the reverse light is not enough of an indication on the road. Hence, according to a report from Driving Tests, there is an insistence towards turning on your hazard lights when backing up in Slovenia. This is also known as the emergency lights, flashers that you turn on when there is an actual problem with your car.
8 Using your car horn is not allowed
Especially when your car has been stuck in traffic for hours, frustration can eventually set in. There you are, seated behind the wheel of your car, feeling helpless and rather annoyed. You know it’s not going to help much but you are going to do it anyway: you are going to go off with your horn. This is precisely why you can hear car horns blaring when there is an intense traffic situation going on. However, if you happen to be driving around Europe, you might want to think twice before you do this. In fact, according to a report from Express, it is illegal to honk your horn in the U.K. between the hours of 11:30 PM and 7:00 AM. If you violate this rule, you can receive a fine of £100.
7 No drinking and eating behind the wheel
If you think about it, there are two basic kinds of car owners: those who let you eat or drink inside their car and those who don’t. If you happen to be among those who don’t, we completely understand. After all, food crumbs can easily make their way to the car’s glove compartment, seats, and floor. On the other hand, beverages can also get splashed on the steering wheel and everywhere else in the car. When this happens, you’re left to clean up one sticky mess. Perhaps, this is also why eating and drinking while inside the car is absolutely not allowed in Cyprus. We also understand that enjoying a meal in the car while driving can also become a serious distraction on the road. Hence, it can possibly cause accidents. Nonetheless, we are not against letting the driver take a sip of water once in a while. In Cyprus, however, this is also strictly not allowed.
6 Winter tires are mandatory at certain times of the year
If you happen to have lived in Europe or North America all your life, you are probably more than aware of winter tires and how they help your car in icy situations. According to Bridgestone, “All winter tires, whether studless or studded, are made to maintain better traction in extreme cold, and on icy, snowy, or slushy roads. The rubber is able to remain softer, which makes it more flexible, allowing the tire to conform to the road better in extremely cold conditions. This feature, along with deeper tread depths and specialized tread designs, are what make snow/winter tires ideal for inclement winter weather and extreme cold driving conditions.” Typically, putting winter tires on your car during certain times of years is common sense. However, in Germany, it is an actual law. In fact, according to a report from The Telegraph, not having winter tires on is illegal during certain parts of the year.
5 Compulsory equipment in the car must include a 3m rope and tow bar
Ideally, whenever you are out on the road in your car, you should have a toolbox with you. Moreover, this toolbox should contain anything and everything you would need to fix your car and get it going again in case it breaks down.
According to Motor Authority, a proper toolbox for a vehicle should include a LifeHammer, duct tape, tow strap, jumper cables, tire inflator, tire pressure gauge, tire chains, an ice scraper, a wool blanket, a knife, a flashlight, a folding shovel, and a socket and screwdriver set. If you happen to live in Serbia, however, only two things really matter. According to a report from The Telegraph, you should be carrying a rope measuring three meters and a tow bar at all times.
4 Having anything with two wheels stuck in the back of the car is not allowed
In today’s world, many have embraced the idea of doing more physical activities and going on adventures outdoors more often. After all, going outdoors and being more active can certainly keep your body more fit and healthy. Not to mention, nature also has a way of bringing down your stress levels as it relaxes your mind.
Unfortunately, if you love nature and you love to bike, a European country like Portugal is not exactly supportive. That’s because you are not allowed put anything with two wheels in the back of your car. That means there is no point attaching a bike rack on your rear. Instead, you have to find a way to fit your bike inside your trunk. This can be particularly difficult if you drive a sedan.
3 Touching up your make-up or eating while stopped at a red light is not allowed
Typically, a red light lasts a few seconds. And while that doesn’t really sound too long, it gives motorists enough time to do a number of things. That includes adjusting their seat, adjusting the car’s air-conditioning, having a quick sip of water, or stretching their arm. If a red light lasts much longer, a motorist may also opt to take a quick bite or even retouch their makeup. If you happen to be driving around Spain, however, this is still not allowed. In fact, according to the website Expatica, you can be fined as much as €200 if you fix your makeup or grab a bite to eat while waiting on a red light. Our advice? Just do nothing.
2 Driving in historic zones without a permit is illegal
As you may know, Italy is one of the oldest countries in the world. It’s no wonder that some parts of Italy have been designated as historic zones. According to the website Auto Europe, the term they use for these sites is Zona Traffico Limitato or ZTL. In English, this basically translates to Limited Traffic Zones. Today, there are various zones that have been identified as a ZTL. There are spread throughout Rome, Florence, Pisa, and Milan. If you happen to be driving around Italy, be sure to avoid driving into one of these zones accidentally. If you do not have a permit, you can get into serious trouble.
1 It is legal for police officers to determine if a driver is speeding using just their eyes
Typically, in the United States, highway patrol officers monitor possible speeding cars using an assortment of tools. These can include a VASCAR computer, a lidar gun, a laser gun, or radar. On the other hand, police officers may also result to pacing, wherein the officer would accelerate until his or her speed matches yours. The moment they have determined excessive speed using any of these methods, they can be confident about charging you with speeding. On the other hand, in Austria, it is totally acceptable for police officers to determine if you’re speeding by just using their eyes. According to a report from Express, however, this only applies to zones with a limit of 30 kilometers per hour or less.