Every day in the United States, an average of 112,000 drivers are ticketed for speeding. It is the most common of all traffic violations but these tickets represent only those who got caught breaking the rules. Plenty of drivers regularly exceed the speed limit but do so when the police are not watching.
According to the Business Insider, driving without a seat belt is another driving regulation frequently broken. Only in New Hampshire are adults not required by regulation to wear safety belts while operating a motor vehicle. Without committing any other traffic infractions, police can ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt. In many states, seat belts are also mandatory for passengers seated in the rear seats.
Although twenty-one states and territories in the US prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones, the practice is common by many drivers. Among those who claim to never break these rules by talking or texting while behind the wheel, many break them by using GPS apps.
Speed limits, seat belt regulations, and cell phone restrictions are well known to all drivers. However, there are many traffic regulations drivers break every day without knowing it. Numerous state rules and statutes are on the books that were passed when the driving conditions warranted them but are now irrelevant.
The following are 20 unusual rules many drivers break without even knowing it.
20 No Bathrobes in California
A stereotypical, traditional U.S. family in the 1950s was comprised of a husband who worked, a wife who managed the house (housewife), two kids, and only one car. The housewife needed the car to go grocery shopping, take the kids to school in the morning, and pick them up in the afternoon. In the era before jogging suits became a fad, when women wore them for fashion and not just staying in shape, what did they wear early in the morning to drive their husbands to work?
They wore their bathrobes! Apparently, some authorities objected to seeing homemakers driving without being fully dressed, or even worse, a woman in a robe and hair curlers changing a flat tire on the side of the road. In California, the legislators made it against the rules.
19 Pedestrians Must Wear Taillights at Night in Kansas
In Kansas, state regulations require pedestrians who want to cross the highway at night to wear taillights but the statute stops short of requiring headlights, turn signals, backup, or fog lights. Although it doesn’t specify on what part of the body the taillights should be attached, the term “taillights” implies somewhere on the backside.
Without being aware, nearly all pedestrians in Kansas break this driving-related rule but those who want to make sure passing vehicles can see them easily at night will wear a reflective belt and shoulder straps like the duo in this photo. It is not a taillight but may be easier to see by drivers at night.
18 Drivers Must Launch Skyrockets in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is home to nearly 25,100 cattle farms on more than 7.7 million acres of farmland. Livestock is an essential part of the state’s economy and as a result, s are passed to protect the industry. One rule requires motorists driving along a country road at night to stop every mile and send up a flare (rockets, before flares where invented) signal and wait ten minutes for the cattle to clear the road before continuing.
This rule was passed back when livestock and cattle herding was an even bigger part of Pennsylvania’s economy and cars had started to be a viable means of transportation. Modern vehicles are now equipped with horns, making flares unnecessary.
17 Dismantle the Car for Horses
Pennsylvania has another statute that was created to protect livestock when automobiles were just beginning to make an impact on the agrarian way of life. A motorist that encounters a team of horses is required to pull well off the road and cover the car with a canvas or blanket until the horses have passed.
Furthermore, the color of the canvas must blend in with the surrounding countryside, presumably to put the horses, that are not accustomed to motorized vehicles, at ease. If hiding the vehicles is not enough and the horses become skittish, the motorist must disassemble the car piece-by-piece and hide the parts under the nearest bushes. Motorists are advised to carry an automotive toolbox or their own personal mechanic.
16 No Spitting from a Car in Georgia
Most drivers know that littering, throwing garbage, or tossing anything out of a car is against the rules. Depending on the state, littering from a vehicle is punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and, sometimes, obligatory litter cleanup. However, few drivers know that spitting out of a car is also prohibited in some states.
No doubt most of the residents of Marietta, Georgia, are unaware of a regulation that makes it forbidden to spit from either a car or a bus. If they knew the rules, all the residents would be driving trucks, since spitting from a truck has no restrictions. Or perhaps they should just refrain from spitting out of their vehicle.
15 No Running out of Gas in Youngstown, Ohio
Running out of gas is not a pleasant experience. It never happens next to a gas station but usually, some distance away, requiring a lengthy walk. Few people carry a gas can in their car, so one must be purchased (paying an exorbitant price, of course) at the gas station before lugging the gallon of fuel back to the abandoned car.
Some drivers subscribe to a service like AAA that will send a tow truck with gas or haul the car to the nearest service station. If things weren’t already bad enough, running out of gas in Youngstown, Ohio, is a misdemeanor offense and the driver is subject to a fine.
14 No Driving Black Cars on Sunday in Denver
Kelley Blue book says that black is the third most popular color selected by new car buyers, coming in at 12.4 percent. According to a 2013 Color Popularity Report by Axalta Coating Systems (formerly DuPont), a global car-coating business in Detroit, "Black became the number one color for luxury." Environmental psychologist Sally Augustin points out that Black is the sophisticate's color.
She says, “Just think of the little black dress and black-tie dinners. You'll see diplomats (or rather, their drivers) maneuvering stately black town cars through the urban landscape, and royalty riding through the night in midnight-toned limousines.” However, black may be the sophisticated color during the week but in Denver, drive a black car on Sunday and risk a traffic violation.
13 In Florida Don't Use Hazard Lights While Moving
Many drivers are unaware that using hazard lights on a moving vehicle is unsafe and in Florida, it is prohibited. Driving in bad weather, either rain or snow, with the hazard lights on makes it difficult for other drivers to tell in which lane the car in front is driving and if it is changing lanes. Following drivers must anticipate where the vehicle in front is headed, since turn signals are disabled when hazards are activated in some cars.
Driving with the hazard lights on is against the rules in most states and in Florida, it is punishable by a $129 fine. The only exception is during a funeral procession, when hazard lights may be used on the participating cars.
12 Anyone Over 88 Years Old Cannot Ride A Motorcycle In Idaho
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics, in the US between 1998 and 2007, injuries among motorcycle riders 50 to 59 years old jumped 150 percent, from 6,000 to 15,000. Among riders over age 60, the number of injuries rose 300 percent, from 2,000 to 8,000. A study from Canada shows injury rates have also risen among older BC men and assumes the rate increase is partially due to the increased number of older men riding motorcycles.
Many Baby Boomers used motorcycles as inexpensive transportation during their younger years and now ride primarily as a leisure-time activity. These studies seem to support the rules in Idaho Falls prohibiting anyone over the age of 88 from driving a motorcycle. It is for their own safety and everyone else’s.
11 No Reverse Driving in Arizona
Driving in reverse is awkward, at best, but it is a maneuver that every driver must use to exit parking places, leave the home garage, and parallel park. To turn the car in reverse, the steering wheel must be rotated in the direction the driver wants the rear of the car to go. Experts recommend turning the head and body to the right until visibility is clear through the back window.
Going in reverse is best done slowly, while watching carefully in all directions. Driving in reverse on a road or backing up on a freeway to return to a missed exit makes no sense at all and it is extremely dangerous. Arizona authorities agree, so they made it forbidden.
10 Changing Clothes Inside a Car in Illinois and New York Is Not Ok
The inside of an automobile, while designed to transport driver and passengers comfortably, is less than ideal for changing clothes. It is not spacious and the windows allow passersby to watch. However, there are occasions when changing clothes in a car is a necessity. After a day at the beach, a change out of a wet swim suite into a pair of dry shorts will make the trip home more comfortable.
Or maybe it’s Friday night and there is no time to pass by the house to change for a party with friends. The car is the most accessible place to get dressed. We have all done it, but in Illinois and New York, changing clothes in the car is against the rules. Perhaps, consider installing curtains in the car.
9 No Parking in Front of a Dunkin' Donuts
In South Berwick, Maine, it is against regulations to park in front of the Dunkin' Donuts on Main Street. While many of the driving rules mentioned here are outdated or just plain absurd, this one makes sense. The temptation is difficult to resist. Who doesn’t love a bagel, jelly donut, or a chocolate Kreme-filled glazed donut from Dunkin’s Donuts? It’s cold outside and the nearest legal parking is several blocks away.
What harm can result from leaving the car at the curb in front with the hazard lights flashing to warn other motorists while running into the store for two minutes to grab a bag full of donuts and large coffee? The police do it, so why not the average driver? Maybe because the police car has a red light!
8 Jumping into Or Out of a Moving Vehicle is Prohibited
In Glendale, California, it is against the rules to jump into or out of a vehicle traveling over 65 mph. Although it seems obvious that leaping from one vehicle to another, at any speed, is not a good idea, in Southern California, where high-speed action movies are filmed, stuntmen (and women) occasionally perform such reckless acts.
Perhaps Glendale authorities felt that watching action films with jumping actors or online videos of parkour participants leaping between buildings was too enticing for the average citizen and some may try imitating these stunts. Parkour is not prohibited in Glendale unless it involves damage to property or part of the activity includes a vehicle traveling at high speed.
7 Thirty Days for Screeching Tires
On occasion, drivers of muscle cars or high-performance vehicles have been known to lay rubber or screech their tires when departing from an intersection controlled by a traffic light. Often, the driver is young and burning rubber may be the start of an impromptu street race against the driver of another powerful car or merely a way to show off in front of everyone in the vicinity.
Screeching tires is not only unsafe (the driver can lose control of the car) but the noise is annoying to most people in the near vicinity. In Derby, Kansas, anyone who screeches tires is subject to a penalty of thirty days in holding, regardless of the reason.
6 No Open Car Doors
An Oregon rule prohibits a driver from leaving a car door open any longer than is necessary. Such a vague description leaves much to interpretation: how long is “necessary?”
If a driver stops the car in front of a store, leaves the door open and blocking passing vehicles, and runs inside to make a quick purchase, no doubt the “necessary” time would be exceeded. However, if a family stops their car and the parents open the back door to remove their kid from one of those child car seats that requires an engineer to unbuckle, should the 30 minutes it takes to release the youngster be considered necessary?
5 Swearing from a Vehicle is Prohibited
Profanity has permeated every part of modern culture. It is commonly used in movie dialogues, song lyrics (regardless of genre), as art on clothing, and, of course, as an expression of various emotions in daily speech.
In an automobile, the use of swear words often occurs as part of road rage and aggressive remarks can sometimes have unpleasant results. However, in Rockville, Maryland, swearing while driving is considered a misdemeanor offense if any pedestrians or other drivers can hear it. Drivers are recommended to keep the profanity to themselves or keep the car windows closed. It can have other consequences, like a fine or some time in holding.
4 Storing Trash in a Vehicle is Prohibited
Like the physics rule of entropy—defined as the lack of order, predictability, or the gradual decline into disorder—trash accumulating in a vehicle is an unavoidable natural phenomenon. While most of us periodically clean our cars to restore them to order, some drivers just let the trash pile grow.
In Hilton Head, South Carolina, it’s considered a nuisance offense to use a car to store trash. However, violation of the statute is subjective since “one man's trash is another man's treasure.” How do the police decide what type or how much junk strewed across the seats and floor of a car is in violation of the rules?
3 Do Not Drive in the Left Lane
Many drivers believe the left lane on a multilane freeway, referred to as the fast lane, can be used continuously if the car travels at the speed limit (65 mph). The middle lane(s) are designated for vehicles traveling slower than the limit but faster than trucks and other vehicles moving slowly in the right lane.
However, the only time it is legal to drive in the left lane, where the speed limit is 65 MPH or more, is to pass another vehicle or if the volume of traffic does not permit cars to safely merge into a no-passing lane. The exception, of course, is the carpool lane, usually the left-most lane, which can be used by qualified carpoolers.
2 Eating While Driving Can Lead to a Ticket
Eating while driving is such a common practice in California that drivers don’t give a second thought to stopping at a drive-thru and eating a meal behind the wheel. Although California does not have specific regulations on the books prohibiting eating and driving, the distracted driving rules may lead to violations and tickets for people who eat and drive.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) distracted driving causes an astounding number of vehicle accidents. California authorities have focused efforts to reduce the rate of distracted driving, mostly with the use of cell phone in cars. Before taking an In-N-Out burger to go, drivers should think about the potential consequences of eating and driving in California.
1 No U-turns
So many different situations make a U-turn legal or prohibited, it is unlikely every driver remembers all of them. In California, a car making a U-turn must give way to all pedestrians and other vehicles—even if other vehicles are facing a yield or stop sign. At intersections without traffic lights, U-turns are permitted only if a sign permits it.
A U-turn is against the rules on a divided highway by crossing a strip of land, curb, dividing section, or two sets of double yellow lines. A U-turn is also against the rules if, for any reason, like rain, fog, a curve, or hill, visibility is less than 200 feet in any direction is required.
Sources: Autobytel, Traffic School Online, Driver's Ed, and California DMV.