Cruising around in a rental car is arguably the most convenient and affordable way to explore the hundreds of remarkable sights found throughout Europe, and understanding the rules of the road in your perspective vacation destination is the norm for enjoying a hassle-free road trip through Europe. However, there are some regulations that vary from control-freak status to unnecessarily bizarre. We hope you enjoy these unorthodox, obscure driving regulations but make sure you abide by these rules while driving in Europe!
If you require glasses or contact lenses to drive, make sure you've packed an extra set because Switzerland, Spain, and Portugal will all fine you unremittingly should you neglect to bring them.
In Germany, it's illegal to drive on the roads without winter tires between November 15th and March 15th, and in certain parts of the country, snow chains are required. This is entirely for safety purposes, as Germany encounters a decent amount of snowfall, especially in elevated regions, and not having the proper tires on your vehicle is dangerous to both the driver of the vehicle and anyone else who may be on the road with you.
Although Russia has a reputation for having among the worst drivers on the planet (see dashboard cam videos in Russia),
they do take car hygiene seriously. Driving a dirty car in Russia's
more opulent cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Volgograd, or Krasnoyarsk)
will net you a 2,000 ruble fine (about $60). It's surprising such a law
is enforced when the only car washes in business require your vehicle to
be rubbed down by bikini-clad car-wash employees at about the same
price as the dirty car fine. Russia's formerly communist brethren in
Bulgaria and Belarus also sport car cleanliness laws, but don't tend to
enforce them, and lack scandalous car wash infrastructure.
Speaking of car washes, it's illegal to wash your car on Sundays in both Switzerland and Germany. Drought-prone regions of the United States and elsewhere are known to limit frivolous water wasting activities such as car washes and grass watering during dry seasons, but in Germany and Switzerland it's strictly so your church-going time isn't disturbed.
Denmark is internationally known for its excellent (and free!) healthcare system, one way Danish authorities have sought to reduce emergency room visits is by enacting a law that requires all drivers to inspect the undercarriage of their vehicle to ensure a person is not underneath and attempting to catch a free ride. Although not typically enforced, if a traffic official observes you pulling out of a parking spot without inspecting the undercarriage, you'll theoretically be subject to a 500 Krone (about $90) fine.
Cyprus's road rules are particularly draconian when it comes to drinking
and driving. The nation utilizes a zero tolerance policy -- for all
liquids, including water. This isn't limited to just liquids either, get
caught tossing anything down your gullet and you'll be subject to an
€85 fine. This can be particularly punishing when there are so many
mouth-wateringly superb roadside barbeques hawking lamb kebabs and
The actions of the unionist-dominated Stormont government, in control of Irish politics from the 1920's up until the Troubles, were at times eccentric and outlandish. Egg-related banditry peaked in the 1950's, to the point where the government deemed it absolutely necessary to decree the Marketing of Eggs Act of 1957. The act allows all law enforcement officials to inspect any vehicle in transit for illegally smuggled eggs. Not to be outdone by the previous administration, the Marketing of Potatoes Act of 1964 was passed, giving the authorities the ability to search all vehicles for spuds as well. Although these laws have little meaning with the re-establishment of peace following the 1998 Good Friday agreement, the police in Ireland (known as the Garda) use the laws to pull over suspected drunk drivers, drug smugglers, and occasionally, spud swindlers.
Most of these perplexing regulations are no longer enforced or are loosely followed, and they merely allow the authorities leeway in questioning suspicious drivers. As long as you follow the rules of the road and don't plan on stealing potatoes or eggs (at least in plain sight), odds are you'll have a stress-free driving experience courtesy of Auto Europe and your knowledge of Europe's most obscure driving laws!