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Weird Driving Laws in the US

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Drivers across the country generally know the rules of the road. However, the rules of the road change over time, regardless of what law makers say, and sometimes, laws that made sense decades ago often stay on the books unenforced, and unchanged. Some of these laws are just ridiculous, while others are just outdated, and a few are just patently shocking.

Fortunately, thanks to the awesome power of the internet, we can all enjoy reading about these weird driving laws.

Nonsensical Requirements

Various state and federal laws require that cars meet certain regulations to be considered roadworthy. However, some regulations that were meant to protect drivers, pedestrians, and livestock a hundred years ago remain on the books.

For instance, some states require that cars actually have people walking in front of them at night to protect against hitting livestock, or shoot off fireworks to warn cattle. Or in Pennsylvania, for example, drivers are required to hide their cars from horses so the horses don't get scared.

While the above laws maybe made sense in a bygone era, one Texas law just seems counter-intuitive. In Texas, regardless of whether a car has a windshield (think: hotrod or custom car), windshield wipers are mandatory. That's right, and that's why people don't register windowless hotrods in Texas. Also, of note, Texans are not allowed to drive within arm's reach of alcohol.

Discriminatory Laws

Shockingly, there are many laws on the books that are discriminatory, particularly against female drivers. In Louisiana, for instance, a woman's husband must wave a flag while walking in front of her vehicle. Laws like these are not enforced.

However, in states like Idaho, a law that prohibits drivers over 88 years old from riding motorcycles could face some actual challenges if enforced.

Noisy Old Laws

Did you know in Rhode Island, it is a requirement to honk when you are passing another driver? While this law is likely to get enforced the other way, or maybe anger whoever you're passing if you are needlessly honking, it is reminiscent of a different era in driving.

Why Are These Laws on the Books?

These laws stay on the books because they rarely get the attention of the law enforcement, and even more rarely get the attention of the courts. Typically, while police are tasked with the duty of fighting crime, if the courts and district attorneys don't follow through on charges, then crimes go unenforced.

Discriminatory laws often stay on the books because new laws prevent them from being enforced. State legislatures often leave the laws on the books rather than remove them because leaving them on the books does not cost any money, while removing them does require the expenditure of time and resources.

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