• Apr 12th 2013 at 3:30PM
  • 38
beeep, flickr


When self-expression has been reduced to 140 characters, the stray honk of a car horn can seem like just another form of reflex communication. And just like Twitter, honking can be annoying, mindless, a nuisance, and even illegal.

The company 76 Branded Fuels has a new ad campaign fashioned as a public service announcement against what they are calling "honkaholism". The gas retailer's site, stophonkaholism.com, describes honkaholism as "an epidemic that causes drivers to honk incessantly and often unnecessarily." Visitors to the site can take a test to see if they suffer from honkaholism, and stage a "honkervention" for those in denial. They can even order a Honk Suppressor which emits a dog-toy-like squeak to replace the blare of an overused horn.

Though only available in California, Oregon and Washington State, the campaign has drawn over 60,000 requests for Honk Suppresors. Which begs the question, when is it appropriate to actually honk the horn?

Almost all states and some municipalities have laws meant to control honking, specifying that a horn can only be sounded to prevent a collision with other road users. Honking for the fun of it or as retribution can land a driver with hefty fines and points on their licenses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is in agreement with states, citing studies that honking leads to aggressive behavior in drivers.

That means it is illegal to honk a horn to pick up a date or, if you are in Louisville, Ken., to have driven around town honking in celebration of the University of Louisville's victory over Michigan in the NCAA Basketball finals this week.

"We generally give the same advice to our new and old drivers" said Dr. William E. Van Tassel, AAA Manager, Driver Training Operation. "Only use your horn to let another road user know you are approaching, such as a bicyclist on a relatively empty road, to stop another driver from impeding into your space and to notify another road user of upcoming road conditions." Van Taseel stressed that honks should be "short and friendly, perhaps accompanied by a wave" to avoid irritating fellow drivers.

While honking should only be used to prevent accidents or alert road users, some drivers have challenged laws that restrict their use. In New York, where honking is a citywide pastime, signs reading 'Don't Honk' were removed in an effort to remove the clutter of often ignored street signs. While unnecessary use of a horn is still illegal in the city, and carries a $350 penalty, tickets are rarely issued. Only 206 summonses were issued for excessive horn use in 2012.

The Honk Suppressor isn't needed in Washington State either, where residents can count honking as protected free speech. In 2011, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that honking was protected speech and overturned a woman's ticket for excessive honking outside of a neighbor's home as a tactic in an ongoing feud. When honkers sound their support for Occupy Wall Street protesters many saw the ensuing tickets as retribution for supporting unpopular political ideas and had their tickets thrown out of court on First Amendment basis.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 38 Comments
      jjaycedar
      • 2 Years Ago
      People texting or gabbing on those things that should be shut off and put away. instead of driving, I usually give two short honks, but they are always there and deserve long blasts.
      Sylvie
      • 2 Years Ago
      1. Press button on steering wheel, 2. Listen for loud noise, 3. If loud noise is not heard, press harder, 4. If source of aggrevation does not cease, keep pressing. 4. If Guido, the bouncer, is the source, call insurance company to verify that your health policy is paid up.
      bdgrizcp
      • 2 Years Ago
      If everyone will kindly agree to stop texting at every traffic light I will kindly stop blasting you back to the real world. Seems like every day I get behind someone trying to text while at a red light. Light turns green and they just sit...yes, I can see you trying to work the phone. Pay attention. And yes, I live where there is an $80 fine for illegal horn blowing.
        dennismlns
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bdgrizcp
        Waking up another driver is on the list of excepted toots, won't get a ticket for that, I had to honk at another driver at a light, and the cop behind me passed me and pulled the "sleeper"
      albatroll
      • 2 Years Ago
      Can I honk at idiots that drive in the passing lane on the Interstate and will not move into the right lane and let faster traffic pass? Tired of passing these brain dead asses on the right. It really gets good when they see you are trying to pass on the right and they speed up. Honking at them is a lot better than what I would like to do. I would like to shoot them!
        dennismlns
        • 2 Years Ago
        @albatroll
        I would not do that in Virginia, they have several unmarked cars that do 55mph in the "Hammer Lane", and will stop and ticket anyone that passes them, and that "10 mph over the limit" rule is NOT a rule, that is up to the desecration of the officer, they can and will pull you over for 4 mph over, if your car is going faster than the majority of the traffic.
      hrlybill
      • 2 Years Ago
      Only in America, do we need some stupid left wing web site telling you how to use your horn. Toot this boneheads! What's annoying is STUPID articles like this. What are you going to printing next how to use the TP in the bathroom, give me a break.
        Lita
        • 2 Years Ago
        @hrlybill
        Your coming to this "stupid left wing we site" makes you the stupid one. If you hate the site so much, then don't read its offerings and certainly don't comment on it. What a fool.
        clenchersan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @hrlybill
        You want to see stupid on the roads, go to You Tube and watch a few hours of Russian dash cam footage. UN-F R A C K I N G-BELIEVABLE.
        dennismlns
        • 2 Years Ago
        @hrlybill
        You think that is stupid, how about the fact that your average car horn is 26db above most noise statutes maximum levels.
      jstdazzlme1
      • 2 Years Ago
      What about tapping the horn once to let the first car at a stop light know that it's turned green and they are just sitting there preoccupied (texting, on the cell phone, etc)? Are we supposed to just sit behind them letting the light turn red again because we're not allowed to wake them up?
      • 2 Years Ago
      John. I just agree... Valerie`s st0ry is great, last thursday I got a top of the range Mazda after making $8310 this last five weeks and a little over ten grand last month. with-out any question its the most-rewarding Ive had. I began this 6 months ago and almost immediately started bringin home minimum $74 per-hr. I went to this web-site,.......... ZOO80.COM
      jrexmarda
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think the only time I have used my horn is when I accidently leaned against it getting in or out of the car. Usually scares the heck out of me. That long loud blaring noise. Then everyone gives you the stink eye. Oh I hate when that happens.
      ectullis
      • 2 Years Ago
      I ignor horns
      • 2 Years Ago
      I honked my horn once at a bicycle rider, (a very short beep) to let him know that I was apssing, and he gave me the finger and weaved back and forth in front of me so that I could not pass. Needless to say, I am fed up with the way they hog the roads.
      Harry Hurt
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nanosecond: The length of time it takes the New York driver behind you to get on the horn when the light turns green.
      dugandob
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've used my horn on the interstate when semi-trucks have swerved into my lane. Also when I'm at a light and it turns the person in front of me is texting and doesn't know it. That's about it. My dad had an air horn put in his street truck man it was so loud. Does anyone remember when people had horns that played a song? And you could switch up different songs. Man those were the days.
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