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When driving, sounding your car horn can be an effective way to alert other drivers or pedestrians of your presence.
However, you need to understand the rules surrounding when and how you can sound your horn so that you don't break the law.
In some countries (especially in Asia), drivers use their car horns all the time to alert drivers of their presence. However, the rules in the UK are very different and a lot more restrictive.
According to the Highway Code, you are allowed to use your vehicle horn when the car is moving and you need to warn other road users of your presence. In other words, it’s there to warn other road users of imminent danger
Horns should generally be reserved for emergency situations or when there is an imminent threat of collision or another accident.
Here are some examples when using your car horn may be a good idea:
Horns are supposed to have a loud, recognisable sound that tells other drivers not to do something dangerous.
This means they can be quite disruptive, so there are legal rules which prohibit their use. The exception is when you see an imminent danger and you want to alert others.
In the eyes of the law, you must not sound your vehicle horn:
Examples of when not to sound your horn:
Police can issue fines to people who use car horns illegally. The Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) is currently £30, but the government is currently in discussions over the possibility of increasing this to £50.
If drivers don't agree with the fine being issued, they can challenge the decision in court. The driver will be given a chance to argue their case and will likely have to provide evidence to back up their claim. If they lose the case, however, they risk the fine being increased to £1,000.
In December 2019, the Metropolitan Police disclosed the number of Traffic Offence Reports (TORs) in London for the years between 2015 and 2019. Here’s the data:
It's rare for these fines to be issued, however. In the whole of 2022, for instance, the Metropolitan Police only issued a total of 14 fines for use of the horn.
If your car horn stops working, you need to get it fixed as soon as possible. Depending on the age of your vehicle and its make and model, this could be a relatively easy fix. Take it into your local garage for them to diagnose the problem and make the necessary repairs.
Avoid driving with a broken car horn because it exists for your safety and the safety of other road users. Plus, if your car is due an MOT, your car will fail if the horn isn't working.
You might not know it's failing (or is already broken) until you need it, so here are the common signs of a failing horn:
This may be one of the signs you need a new car!
If you find yourself getting irritated by another driver or pedestrian, take some deep breaths until the feeling passes. Honking when angry can make things worse for everyone involved.
The point here is that if there's no danger - if nothing bad will happen if you don't sound your horn - then don't use it! It's just not worth it.
Don't use your horn in anger or as an angry response, even if you're frustrated with how slowly someone else is driving or what they did wrong (and believe me, we've all been there—it sucks).
Remember, use your horn only when necessary to avoid accidents.
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