Non-emergency vehicle horn use and the law

There are enough noise codes and ordinances throughout North America that define non-emergency horn honking as a violation - further legislation is not required to facilitate the phasing out of horn honking to indicate vehicle security status and other situations (car started remotely, car lost in parking lot). Federal funding to address noise in the US was terminated in 1982, and responsibility for enforcing noise regulation was left to cities and states. However, local law enforcement bodies have the ability to enforce noise regulations.

Automakers can proactively eliminate horn sounds as audible security status indication because non-emergency horn honking violates safety laws and local noise ordinances, and because non-emergency horn honking is inconsistent with the industry's positions on the environment, sustainability, and social responsibility.

Many noise ordinances prohibit non-emergency horn honking, but allow vehicle status indication under exceptions. But most such laws were passed before horn honking came into popular use as a status indicator. In many instances, the exceptions refer to car alarm noise that occurs when security is breached, not when the alarm is being activated. Most noise ordinances do not specifically address "lock alert" horn honking (with or without a car alarm involved). Interpretation is left up to local legislators. Some people who have questioned local lawmakers about this exception have learned that horn-honking security status indicators are in fact not excluded, and violate the law. When in doubt, ask. It is doubtful that legislation would allow horn-honking security status indication without mentioning it as an exception in the horn section of the ordinance. Here is a sampling of local laws in North America.

    Anchorage Noise Related Regulations (Section 15.70.090 article C)
    Boulder noise regulation
    Denver noise ordinance
    Ordinance of the Town of Miami Lakes (Page 2, Section 21-28 (1) a)
    Miami Dade Noise Regulations (Page 2 a)
    Chicago II
    Elkhart County, Indiana (page 2)
    Elkhart, Indiana Noise Ordinance Yields Drugs and Weapons Arrests and Pays for Itself
    Dearborn noise code (Section 13-42)   (home to Ford Motor Company)
    Detroit Noise Regulations (Page 4, Section 55-7-4)
New Jersey
     Noise Control Code for all Municipalities in Hudson County (page 10)
     Chatham Township, Morris County (page 2)
New York
    A Guide to New York City's Noise Code
    NYC Quiet Hours
    The City of New York Local Law No. 113
    New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law
    City of Yonkers enumeration of prohibited noises (Section 66-4 E)   (home to Consumers Union)
     City of Dallas (Section 30-2 a)
     Sound Control Ordinance of the City of Richmond (page 6)
     City of Williamsburg
Washington State
    Snohomish County
    Toronto Municipal Noise Code (page 6)
    City of Windsor By-law 6716 (pages 3 and 4)   (home to Chrysler Canada Inc.)
    Vancouver By-law 9344 (page 4 section 2.4)

There is a partial list of noise regulations on the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse site

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