News sources, blogs, email chains, and periodicals publish lists of "stupid laws", which are supposedly still on the books. One particularly amusing one:

Any motorist who sights a team of horses coming toward him must pull well off the road, cover his car with a blanket or canvas that blends with the countryside, and let the horses pass.

This is attributed, by sources like a local Philadelphia news TV station, to Pennsylvania state law, but no detailed citation is provided. Other websites, of even more dubious provenance, add the following:

If the horses appear skittish, the motorist must take his car apart, piece by piece, and hide it under the nearest bushes.

The only sources I can find are other lists of stupid laws. Does this one have any basis in fact?

  • 7
    Essentially all of those "lol old stupid law" are false.
    – pipe
    Nov 23, 2019 at 11:52
  • 4
    FWIW, pulling off to the side of the road and letting the horses pass is just ordinary politeness when you're on the sort of roads typically shared by cars (or ATVs &c) and horses.
    – jamesqf
    Nov 24, 2019 at 4:13

1 Answer 1


No, this is not a law on the books in Pennsylvania.

Early in the 20th century, when cars were louder, less regulated in right of way, and comingled with horse drawn carriages, a group of farmers (calling themselves FAAS, Farmers Anti-Automobile Society) assembled to draft proposed legislation that would prevent cars from spooking horses. One of these proposed laws was as quoted. Another was that a car approaching by night would send flares off at regular intervals to signal its arrival.

Concord Township Historical Society has a well-sourced description of these early attempts at regulation. See https://concordhist.org/history-unlocked-august-2017-early-auto-laws/ for a more thorough description from a local.

The Vintage Automobile Association of America also discusses this in the broader context of early automobile laws, not just in Pennsylvania, and how early competitions worked to disprove the need for these kinds of laws. See https://web.archive.org/web/20000929170538/http://www.vmcca.org/bh/aaa.html

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