You may have heard that California police can penalize drivers who honk their vehicle’s horn. Is this true, and if so, are there exceptions to this rule?
California Code states that you can use a horn to warn someone “when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation.” The only other time your horn should sound is when it goes off as part of the theft alarm system activation.
Warning someone means using a horn before a hazard causes harm
Let’s say that a driver is about to reverse out of their driveway into your path. If you can slow down to allow them to leave safely, that is preferable. If you can’t and need to toot the horn to let them know they should wait, that is also OK. What is not acceptable is steering around them and then using the horn to show your frustration. It’s the equivalent of shouting, “Stay out of my way, you idiot,” instead of politely asking someone to move aside.
Why did lawmakers render excess horn use illegal?
There are two problems with people overusing their horns. Firstly, it causes noise pollution, which research shows is bad for people’s well-being. Secondly, other drivers may interpret it as an act of aggression (which is often true) and react badly. In other words, overuse of horns can make crashes more likely.
If someone injures you, consider getting legal help to explore your options. Showing that you gave a warning with your horn could help prove they were distracted. Showing they used their horn excessively could help you prove they were driving aggressively.