With icy roads, poor visibility and frosty windscreens, getting behind the wheel in the winter months can be challenging for even the most experienced drivers. Different countries have unique winter laws and customs to ensure the safety of drivers, and failing to oblige could leave unsuspecting motorists out of pocket.
Wearing winter boots is punishable by £5,000 fines in the UK, while driving too close to a polar bear could see motorists jailed in Norway.
John Charnock, CEO of StressFreeCarRental.com said: “Failure to adhere to winter motoring laws around the world could see drivers fined and even jailed, so it is important to research before planning to drive abroad.
“Laws vary around the world from season to season and tourists could easily be unintentionally caught out just for wearing a winter coat in Spain.
“There are some different laws when it comes to the festive season – such as transporting Christmas trees correctly in the UK and not driving a sleigh unless it has two bells in Canada.
“Driving during the winter season can be particularly dangerous, and even though some laws may seem bizarre, they are ultimately in place to protect motorists and other road users.”
These are the 10 most unusual winter motoring laws around the world, according to StressFreeCarRental.com.
1. Norway – Scaring Polar Bears
Norway has strict laws to protect polar bears, and motorists who get too close or pass too quickly and scare the animals could be imprisoned.
2. USA- Removing layers
It is illegal to change clothes in multiple states in America, including Illinois and Delaware. This means removing winter layers when the car warms up could land motorists in trouble with the law.
3. England- Wearing winter boots
Motorists face £5000 fines for wearing winter boots while driving. Rule 97 of the Highway Code states that footwear cannot prevent correctly using controls, or they could be found guilty of driving without due care and attention and also handed a driving ban and nine penalty points.
4. Bulgaria- Dirty Cars
Cars must maintain their cleanliness in Bulgaria, or else owners face a fine of 50 leva. It is important drivers there keep on top of cleaning during the muddy winter months.
5. Wales- Transporting a Christmas tree
The Road Traffic Act 1988 requires drivers to ensure their vehicles are not overloaded or risk £5,000 fines. Christmas trees hanging out of the boot or strapped to the roof could also lead to a dangerous driving charge, which holds a two-year prison sentence.
6. Canada- Sleigh Bells
It is against the law to drive a reindeer-pulled sleigh unless at least two bells are attached, so Santa Claus should take note when visiting Canada.
7. France- Anti-Dazzlers
The darker days and bad weather make car lights necessary in winter, but in France, drivers must have a headlamp converter which prevents dazzling oncoming traffic. French police can fine motorists on the spot for not having converters.
8. Germany- Tyre markings
It is illegal to drive without winter tyres marked with an “M + S” when it is slushy, snowy or icy. Failure to do so could lead to a €40 fine and points on the licence.
9. Spain- Winter Coats
Wearing clothes which limit freedom of movement while driving is fineable under Spanish Traffic Regulations. Thick winter coats and bulky gloves that reduce mobility should be avoided.
10. Scotland- Splashing Pedestrians
There’s a maximum £5,000 fine for drivers who purposely splash pedestrians in their cars under the Road Traffic Act 1988.