Car Horn Laws and Etiquette

Car Horn Laws and Etiquette

Car Horn Laws and Etiquette

Car horns have been around as long as cars themselves. They quickly became necessary components of early cars when people weren’t used to seeing them on the road. Back then, steering, brakes, and drivers were a lot less reliable, and accidents were frequent. Today, however, working car horns are a required element of all roadworthy vehicles.

We’ve all been on either the receiving or sending end of a car horn while driving. Today, it is frequently used to alert distracted drivers that the light has just changed. But are there laws governing vehicle horns and their use? Are there certain etiquette standards for using a car horn? Can a car horn be too loud?

What Is the basic purpose of a horn?

It is designed to serve as a warming device to other drivers. If you are not using it as a warning, you are probably using it wrongly and possibly illegally.

Can I use a horn to say “I’m here” or “Goodbye” when visiting friends?

Technically no. Some communities even have noise laws banning such use throughout the overnight hours.

So blowing horns during a wedding procession is illegal?

Yup. Although a case could be made that it serves as a warning.

Can a horn be too soft or too loud?

Most states say that horns must be able to be heard under normal traffic conditions up to 100 feet away. After-market horns that are loud and sound like a ship’s horn, train horn, or semi-tractor horn are illegal in most states.

Can I blow my horn at an inattentive driver at a stoplight?

Technically, it can be illegal, but unless there is a policeman in front of you, you likely won’t be cited. Care should be taken to keep horn use short and “friendly.”

Why do people six cars back blow their horns as soon as the light turns green?


Some people get triggered by a car horn, even if they deserve the horning. It can pay to have a bit of patience and keep any horn usage to a “toot.”

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