Honking Dos and Don'ts: Horn Etiquette Tips for Drivers

Author: Joey Rosenberg

Categorized in: How-To, Safety, Teens

Horn Etiquette Tips for Drivers
Photo by Pete Bellis via Flickr

Horn honking: if you're like most drivers, you either you love it or you hate it! Some drivers use their horns to communicate effectively and alert other drivers, while plenty of others use horns to vent their traffic frustrations and perpetuate road rage. As a general rule, you should only use your vehicle's horn when absolutely necessary to insure safe driving. Whether you are new to driving or simply need a refresher, here are some basic honking etiquette tips to keep in mind.

Honking to Alert Drivers

Let's say that the brakes in your vehicle go out, you've blown a tire, or you spot a large object obstructing the road ahead of you. It is a good idea to use your horn to alert other drivers about equipment issues you are experiencing with your own car and about hazardous conditions that may be coming ahead.

Honking to Communicate

Now let's say that the driver next to you begins swerving into your lane and you're afraid of getting side-swiped. Make just a quick beep of your horn to communicate to your neighbor that he's getting too close for comfort and should be more alert.

Honking to Express Anger

Contrary to popular belief, a vehicle's horn is not an instrument for letting other people know they're bad drivers! It's never a good idea to use your horn to tell drivers to get out of your way or that you don't like a driving move they just made. Road rage-related accidents often begin with unnecessary horn honking, and safety should always be your number one priority on the road. Unless other drivers are putting your life at risk, blasting your horn at them will only make them angry instead of convincing them to change their habits.

Other Honking Tips

Keep in mind that honking is actually illegal in some cities during certain hours. When in doubt, don't use your horn when it's not necessary to keep you safe. Instead of honking your horn while waiting for your passengers to hurry up and join you, park your car and either call them or get out to ring the doorbell. Honking doesn't magically make traffic jams disappear, and the annoying sound of horns actually makes traffic even more unbearable for drivers. If you're sitting in traffic and can't manage to take an alternate route, take a moment to realize that there is very little you can do to clear it and try to relax and enjoy some peaceful music or a good conversation with your passengers. Another popular reason for honking is to show support for a cause, whether it's a fundraising campaign, a parade, a protest, or a wedding. Use these honks sparingly and if you feel particularly drawn to honk, make it a quick beep rather than a long, drawn-out blast.