With gas prices dropping and the nation cooling off from summer, you might be thinking, “Road trip!” And why not? Autumn is a great time to see the beautiful foliage in the North, check out some Southern states without risking heatstroke and avoid the crowds at the large national parks in the West. Before you hit the road, though, you should know that America has some pretty weird laws on the books.
No Horn-Blowing After 9, Y’all – Unless You’re at an Intersection
Get off I-95 and take the roads less traveled to enjoy the leafy scenery and gentle mountains of the South. There are some rules, though, that you should know about:
- In Arkansas, you may not honk your horn after 9 p.m. in areas where cold drinks and sandwiches are served.
- South Carolina drivers must stop 100 feet before an intersection and fire a gun into the air to warn folks on horseback. However, don’t do the same when in in Oxford, Mississippi; local law there forbids honking, because it might scare the horses.
- Want to visit an historic North Carolina cemetery? You may not drive through it, unless you are actually going to dig a grave or bury someone, according to state law. The law kindly presumes you will need a vehicle to carry in digging equipment and/or the departed.
Heading North? Honk, and Clear the Way for Doughnuts
The northern states are hardly immune from strange rules. Here are a few every tourist should understand:
- Honking is normal behavior for New Jerseyans, and not because they’re jerks; because state law requires them to do so before passing another vehicle, according to myparkingsign.com.
- New Englanders are very serious about two things: the Red Sox and doughnuts. So parking is prohibited within 25 feet of the Dunkin’ Donuts in Berwick, Maine.
- If Maryland police hear you cursing in your car, they can nab you for $100 or 90 days.
Back-In Parking and Tire Screeching Prohibited in Midwest
Midwesterners pride themselves on being sensible, but these rules indicate that legislators and town councils don’t trust their fellow citizens behind the wheel.
- You can’t back into a parking space in Indiana.
- It will cost you 30 days in the slammer if you get caught screeching your tires in Derby, Kansas.
- Drivers in University City, Missouri, can’t honk someone else’s horn by law.
Western Driving Norms
- California law prohibits women to drive in bathrobes or housecoats.
- You must stop and alert police in Washington if you intend to commit a crime before entering the targeted town.
- Alaska does not allow people to tie dogs to car roofs.
- Oregon state troopers, renowned for their speed guns, can also ticket drivers who leave their car doors open “longer than necessary.”
Seriously, Now… Before You Go
Hopefully, you’d be hard-pressed to find a police officer who’d actually enforce the above rules of the road. You should, however, really take the following into account when planning a fall road trip:
- Perform routine vehicle maintenance – Get the oil changed, check the tread and air pressure on your tires and get the brakes inspected.
- Or go one better and rent a car for the trip. Enjoy newer features like Siruis radio, built-in navigation and rear-seat DVD players to keep the kids entertained. Be sure to get rental car insurance, too, so you’re covered in the event of accident or theft.
- Pack a first aid kit, plenty of water and snacks and brush up on how to play road trip games.