It seems that wherever we turn in life, regulations, rules and laws dictate nearly every move we make, perhaps even more so when it comes to motoring. In the main part, these rules and regulations are a good thing – they stop us from driving around in cars that aren’t safe, set speed limits, reduce accidents, improve road safety, help traffic flow freely, reduce parking chaos … the list is endless when you start looking into them.
But what of the more … interesting … rules and regulations from around the world as well as here in the UK? See that unoccupied vehicle travelling at over 60 mph? That’s most definitely illegal in California.
Stranger than fiction
Of course it’s great fun to wonder just how some of these regulations came about, or to think that someone, somewhere, is breaking a law that really has no place in the modern world, and even if you sat them down to explain why they’re breaking the law, they would never believe you – “Excuse me sir, I noticed that you’re polishing your car, I hope that you’re not using used underwear to do so, because that’s illegal.” Or how about transporting a Gorilla? Fine and dandy in the front seats of a car, but put him in the back and you’re breaking the law.
We know that some of these laws are just hang-ups from a distant past, like the law that says all Hackney Carriages should carry a bale of hay and a bag of oats. Yes, perhaps 50+ years ago that would have been a prerequisite, but in today’s world, the LTI black cab runs on diesel, not hay and oats.
It’s doubtful that some of these laws and regulations would be enforced today, although technically, they could be, and of course, the old adage is applicable … ignorance is no defence. This means that just because you aren’t aware that you’re breaking a specific law (no matter how outdated or archaic), you can still be prosecuted for it.
In some cases, this can be a good thing; in Germany, you can be prosecuted for running out of fuel on an autobahn. Although at first glance, this seems a little harsh, but it does have an impact on safety – some stretches of the autobahn network are unrestricted speed-wise, so the authorities try to minimise risks in other ways, besides, there are always plenty of opportunities to stop for fuel, so to run out could almost be classed as negligence.
Around the world in... 800 years?
Ever since human learned to make fire, there have been people rule makers, and rule breakers. It’s no surprise to learn that a number of English laws date back to the 1300’s, although of course, motoring laws can only be much younger.
Even so, there are a number of laws around the world that have simply never been updated since introduction however many years ago, take for example the law that states ‘When travelling along country roads at night, you must stop every mile to detonate a rocket to warn cattle of your impending arrival,’ or that if you’re horse spotting and cause worry to the horses, you MUST dismantle your car and camouflage it until the worry has passed.
Road safety always first
Many of these laws or regulations have come about as a direct result of something, but we should understand that for the main part, they are there for our safety on the road. Some of them are just common sense, whilst others do make you wonder how they came about.
However we choose to view these regulations, it’s possible that in another fifty years or so, people will be laughing at what we currently have to put up with, and that’s the thing … times change, viewpoints change and the world changes with them.
Will we face a world where leaving an unattended autonomous car will be faced with a fine if we call it up without first doing a complete risk-assessment of the surrounding area? It sounds ridiculous now, but so does having to have a man with a red flag walking in front of a car if it’s being driven by a woman in Memphis or New Orleans, and yes, that really did happen.
Rules and regulations are ever changing and adapting, very occasionally, some slip through the common-sense filter and give us a glimpse into times-gone-past, perhaps we should try and come up with our own set of regulations purely for that purpose – just to amuse the future generations