Some traffic laws are a pain — the speed limit on that back road across town, or a newly installed “No Right on Red” down the street — but there’s usually a good reason for having them.
There are a number of traffic laws out there, however, that just don’t seem to make any sense. Here are a few of the weirdest (in our estimation). Though they sound too crazy to be true, these in fact are actual laws that are still in effect.
No carrying a minor on top of your car
OK, first up: according to Oregon state law, it’s illegal to transport a minor on top of a vehicle. Sounds reasonable, but why on earth would that law need to be passed in the first place?
Here’s the text:
A person commits the offense of carrying a minor on an external part of a motor vehicle if the person carries any person under 18 years of age upon the hood, fender, running board or other external part of any motor vehicle that is upon a highway.
Are parents really putting their kids on the hood of the car? Actually, the main reason the law was passed was to simply prevent kids from riding in the back of flatbed trucks. Alaska has a similar law for dogs, so maybe there’s something to it.
The law goes on to state that carrying a minor on top of a vehicle is not an offense if it’s for a parade, if the minor has a hunting license, or if they’re strapped down like lumber.
You can read the full text of the law here.
No driving around town with dirty tires
In Minnetonka, Minnesota, driving a vehicle with dirty tires is considered a “public nuisance.”
The following are declared to be nuisances affecting public peace, safety and general welfare . . . a truck or other vehicle whose wheels or tires deposit mud, dirt, sticky substances, litter or other material on any street or highway.
Luckily for Minnetonkans, this law is primarily directed at construction vehicles. There isn’t much background available on why they chose to be that specific, but if a skip loader left trails of tar and rubble along the road outside your house, you might be tempted to say something too. The same law requires that wood be kept neatly stacked — but that doesn’t mean the police are going to inspect your fireplace.
Check out the full text here.
No parking in front of Dunkin’ Donuts
South Berwick, Maine, is host to one of the strangest traffic laws we’ve come across: you can’t park in front of Dunkin’ Donuts. What? But before you get Congress on the phone, here’s some context:
No person shall park a vehicle at any time upon any of the streets or parts of streets described: . . . Main St. (West) In front of Dunkin’ Donuts to a point 25 feet south . . .
It’s not that South Berwick officials have anything against Dunkin’. The law only states that cars aren’t allowed to park in front of that specific Dunkin’ Donuts.
We’re guessing this has more to do with the location than the business that resides there. But, as it turns out, the next closest Dunkin’ Donuts is 9 miles away, in a different city. So technically, it is illegal to park in front of any Dunkin’ Donuts in South Berwick.
Read the full text here.
No spilling salt on the street
According to a Hermosa Beach, California, law, it’s illegal to spill salt on the road. Pepper is fine.
It is unlawful for any person to spill, pour, drop or place . . . upon any asphalt or bituminous pavement . . . any salt, rock salt, common salt, salt brine, acid, chemical, broken glass . . .
No twist here. They won’t prosecute over a pinch, but enough salt could potentially damage the pavement, and Hermosa Beach ain’t havin’ that.
See the full text here.
Really, most traffic laws, as silly as they may seem, do have some logic behind them — some more obvious than others. It’s fun to marvel at the goofiness of them, but the fact is that you probably won’t get a ticket for driving through a bit of mud in Minnetonka.
However, you will get a ticket (or worse) if you drive down an Oregon highway with a minor on top of your car. Just to be clear.