Car horn etiquette

If you’ve ever taken a driver’s education course, then you know about the basics of safe driving etiquette. While knowing how to use your turn signals and change lanes is important, many classes have fail to properly instruct drivers on car horn etiquette. 

Not only can using your horn correctly help avoid an accident, but it’s a vital way for drivers to communicate with one another on the road. These are the do’s and don’t of using your horn while driving. 

Do: Honking to Alert Other Drivers

Sometimes, you need to quickly alert other drivers to a potentially dangerous situation. Maybe there’s something in the road that could cause an accident, perhaps you’ve lost control of your car because your brakes went out, or maybe you see something the other driver doesn’t. Either way, honking your horn is a good way to alert other drivers to hazardous conditions.

Do: Honking to Communicate with Other Drivers

The driver in the next lane is not paying attention and is straying into your lane. If you want to alert them, a quick beep of the horn may let the other driver know that they’re about to cause an accident. The sound grabs their attention and the incident is avoided. 

There are other times when it’s acceptable to honk your horn. If someone is about to back into your car in a parking lot, if a biker or pedestrian is in a dangerous location, or if someone is going to hit a person or another vehicle without knowing it. Don’t be afraid to use your horn to avoid accidents. 

Don’t: Honking to Express Anger aka Road Rage

You’re having a bad day and another driver does something to push you over the edge. It may be your first instinct to “let ‘em have it”, by laying on your horn. However, a car’s horn should never be used to express anger or agitation towards other drivers or pedestrians. These types of rage-related accidents often start with unnecessary horn honking. 

Not only does honking your horn out of anger not fix anything, but it may also agitate other drivers. This could cause an increase in potentially dangerous distractions and emotions. Only use your horn to help others be safer on the road. Aggression and road rage, when combined with horn honking, are real problems that can create disastrous or even fatal consequences. 

Do: Follow the Law

Always be sure to know your state’s laws when it comes to using your vehicle’s horn. Not only is improper horn usage potentially dangerous, but it can also be illegal. Many states have restrictions against using your horn for reasons other than safety concerns. Breaking these laws could get you a fine, tickets, or marks against your driving record.

Some states have strict rules about using your horn during certain hours, so be aware of your state’s rules on noise ordinances. Don’t sit outside your friend’s house and blow the horn for them to come out.  Instead, give them a call on your cell phone once you’re safely parked or ring their doorbell. Remember, a car horn should only be used for keeping you and others safe.