Everyone is talking about it: Oregon recently passed House Bill 2482, legalizing the pumping of gas in rural areas of the state. While many of the residents voiced their concerns, the rest of America laughed at the incredulity of the situation (except for New Jersey, a state that has similar regulations outlawing the pumping of your own gas). As the law begins to take effect, we’re sure to hear stories of hapless drivers searching their trunks for the place to insert the fuel pump, concerning puddles of gasoline, and gas station attendant confessions. We’d just like to remind everyone that Oregon, and New Jersey, are not the only states with strange laws regarding cars. Here are five bizarre laws that make Oregon seem well adjusted in comparison.
1. Alabama: In the state of Alabama, it is illegal to drive while blindfolded. One could hope this law was put in place because a game of truth or dare got out of hand and the state legislature intervened before a triple dog dare was delivered… one could hope. However, the wording of the law, “No person shall drive a vehicle when it is loaded… as to obstruct the view of the driver…” implies a scenario more indicative of a tightly packed car (see for yourself: Alabama Code Title 32, Motor Vehicles and Traffic 32-5A-53).
2. Connecticut: In the state of Connecticut, hunting from cars is illegal. You can kind of imagine where that comes from. In the mid to late 1800's, when buffalo were more prevalent and railroads were the fastest mode of transportation, passengers on certain routes shot buffalo from their train cars... but this is the 21st century and someone pointing a lethal weapon out of a moving vehicle is text book definition “suspicious behavior.”
3. Nevada: In the state of Nevada, it was illegal to ride a camel on the highway. Well, almost. It was illegal for any camel to be on a highway, regardless of who is riding it. Turns out the War Department shipped them in, hoping they might be an asset to their operations in the Wild West. When Operation Camel proved unsuccessful, some were sold, some were ranched, and some went wild. Apparently they caused enough transportation problems in Nevada in the late 1800's that a law was put in place to keep away. While the law was repealed in 1899, it’s very likely frowned upon to ride a camel on a highway in any state.
4. New Jersey: In the state of New Jersey, one must honk before passing. Of course the only other state in America that has a law barring the pumping of your own gas has a weird law about honking. The law may have started with good intentions, much like the “on your left” you’ll hear when walking a path shared by cyclists. But, whatever it was before, honking is now generally reserved for letting someone know they’re driving like crazy, getting the attention of someone not paying attention, or letting everyone else know you’re the crazy person. Apparently this law is not always practiced, but if you’re itching to test your car horn, try switching lanes in New Jersey.
5. Oklahoma: In Oklahoma it is illegal to read a comic book while driving. Why comic books specifically? Who’s to say? You’d think trying to keep your place in a chapter book while driving would be hard enough, or that reading anything while driving should be illegal. Regardless, when driving in Oklahoma, leave your pulp fiction out of sight.
We don’t have to say how obvious any of these are, just like we don’t have to say that everything in Oregon will work out just fine and in a few months everyone will forget it even happened. But, until then, drive safely, and remember to unscrew the gas cap before putting in the pump!