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10 of the Most Important but Uncommon Laws in the World

Important but Uncommon Laws

Civilized human society depends on the enforcement of good laws to function smoothly. So, as responsible citizens, it is only fair that we abide by these rules. But what happens when even the important laws turn out to be a little strange? Well, that’s when we get to be law-abiding citizens who also have some fun reading up on such laws. So, hold onto your horses, because we’re about to take you through ten of the most important but uncommon laws in the world. 

1. In the country of Sierra Leone, before getting a driver’s license, citizens are required by law to buy and play a board game called “The Drivers’ Way.” This game involves rolling a stoplight-themed die and moving models of plastic cars around the board. Along with this, potential licensees must also answer questions about road laws.

The Driver's Way
Sierra Leone has introduced a board game to teach learner drivers about road safety and how to avoid accidents. Image credit: dw.com

If you think it’s hard to get a driver’s license in the US, wait until you’ve heard about Sierra Leone. In this West African country, since 2013, the government has made it mandatory that all potential licensees buy and play a game called “The Driver’s Way.”

In this game, a player has to roll a stoplight-themed die and move around plastic models of cars, all while answering questions about road laws. Along the way, players will also encounter “vehicle tests” that check if the cars are in good shape and have proper insurance. 

Said to be as similar to Scrabble, this game has been designed by the country’s transport authority. It costs about 60,000 Leones (almost $14), and a would-be driver is expected to bear the costs themselves. With this innovative approach to driving tests, the government hopes that it can find a more light-hearted way of educating its citizens. (1, 2)

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2. France is the first country to have defined and outlawed the practice of planned obsolescence. In 2015, the government passed a law that made it illegal for manufacturers to deliberately reduce the lifespan of products to increase their replacement rate. Violators of this law can be punished with two years of jail time and a fine of €300,000 ($352,500).

Obsolescence
Image credit: Shutterstock

Planned obsolescence is perhaps one of the biggest hurdles that most modern consumers have to face. Under this practice, manufacturers may often intentionally design a product to fail or slow down after a set time, forcing consumers to spend more money on replacing it. However, for French citizens, all hope is not lost.

In 2015, France became the first country to define and outlaw this practice. According to this law, any manufacturer found guilty of practicing planned obsolescence can be jailed for two years and fined a sum of €300,000 ($352,500) or a sum that constitutes five percent of the average annual income over the previous three years.

In 2017, the French non-profit organization, Halte à L’Obsolescence Programmée, filed lawsuits against Apple Inc. and computer printer companies HP, Canon, and Epson on the allegations of planned obsolescence. This was the first time such a lawsuit was filed in the country. (1, 2)

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3. Nineteen US states have something called the “Right to Dry” laws that allow residents to have a clothesline in their backyards. Although these laws slightly vary from state to state, they override any bans placed by a Homeowner Association (HOA) on having outdoor clotheslines. 

Right to Dry
Image credit: Shutterstock

In 2015, the US state of California passed a bill that ratified its citizens’  “Right to Dry.” According to this bill, it is now illegal for landowners and homeowners associations to prohibit residents from drying their laundry outside.

However, many HOA-regulated neighborhoods have expressed concerns that such a move could lead to diminished property values. Regardless, there is currently a mass movement in favor of these laws in the US. 

In 18 other states, these laws have already been enacted. These states include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A few other states like Washington are in the process of legislating similar bills. With the rising concerns over environmental issues, these laws are believed to help Americans discard the electric dryer for more energy-efficient options. (1, 2)

4. In 2020, Palau banned sunscreen that is harmful to coral reefs and other sea life. Any sunscreen that contains ingredients like oxybenzone will no longer be allowed to be sold or worn. This was the first country to do so in the world, and the US state of Hawaii followed suit in January 2021.

Banned Sunscreen
Image credit: Shutterstock

The use of sunscreen lotions and creams near coral reefs and other sea life is one of the biggest environmental hazards in the world. This is because some key ingredients in these lotions such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, and others are widely known to be environmental pollutants. However, until a year ago, there were no official bans put in place against such ingredients. 

In 2020, the pacific island country of Palau became the first nation to pass a law against the selling and usage of sunscreen creams that contain ten hazardous ingredients. Since January 2021, such sunscreen lotions have also been banned in the US state of Hawaii.

Similar laws have also been passed in the US Virgin Islands and the Dutch Caribbean Island of Bonaire. With more such bans going into effect, major cosmetic brands have now begun producing sunscreen lotions that are “reef bill compliant.” (1, 2)

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5. Japanese public holidays are decided by the Public Holiday Law of 1948. According to this law, if a national holiday falls on a Sunday, the next working day will also be a holiday. Also, any day that falls between two holidays will be considered a holiday. These laws were passed to give their citizens more breaks from work. 

Public Holiday Law
Image credit: Shutterstock

The Japanese Public Holiday Law was passed in 1948 to bring in major changes to the national holidays in the country. According to this law, if a national holiday falls on a Sunday, then the following Monday will also be a holiday.

Similarly, if a working day falls between two holidays, Japanese citizens are given a third holiday on this day. These two holidays are often referred to as the “transfer day” and “citizen’s holiday” respectively.

These laws were enacted in the hopes that the Japanese people would be able to take off a whole weekend to travel or just catch a break from work. As a consequence, the Japanese tourism industry has rapidly grown to accommodate this system.

Today, every year during the Golden Week and the Silver Week, two separate clusters of national holidays in the country, Japan witnesses a huge influx of tourists from all over the world. (1, 2)

Also read: 12 Weird Lawsuits Filed by People

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