The Basics of Using Your Horn | Horn Honking Etiquette

Beep, Beep, Beep. There you are sitting in the traffic jam when the musical chorus begins. Depending on your mood, you may join in. But, did you know there is actual “horn honking etiquette?” So honk carefully.

The Basics of Horn Honking

Let’s start with the what a horn does. A horn alerts people around you of something. You use your horn to get the attention of others. Unfortunately, often times people use the horn to get the wrong kind of attention.

The Right Attention

The first rule in horn honking etiquette is to use your horn for the right reasons. The horn’s first purpose should be used to get attention from people. For instance, if your brakes stop working and you need to get the attention of those around you, should definitely use your horn to make people aware of the seriousness of the situation.

It is also acceptable to use your horn when you are getting another driver’s attention because of something wrong with their vehicle, such as a flat tire or a coffee cup left on top of their car.

Using your horn correctly is one safety tip that all drivers should put into action.

Wrong Reasons to Honk

Many people abuse their horn. Especially in moments of stress, tension and even rage, the horn can elevate a situation from bad to worse. Using your horn inappropriately can also lead to an automobile accident. Just like texting and driving can be dangerous, honking for the wrong reasons while driving can be equally as chancy.

When stuck in traffic, starting or joining in a honking chorus will not make any cars move faster. In fact, it may just create more frustration and road rage around you, causing people to purposefully irritate you by driving slowly. As hard as it is, patience is the key to traffic jams.

The Right Beep: Horn Honking Etiquette

It is easy to distinguish the temperament of a driver based on the honk they use. Knowing the type of honk will better help you assess the situation.

Short Beep

A short beep is usually used to alert you that you are not paying attention. The short beep is most often used when a light changes, but the car is not aware of the change. One or two short beeps are appropriate in this type of situation.

Long Beep

A long beep or multiple long beeps indicate frustration. If someone around you is laying on the horn, take a moment to evaluate the situation. Are they honking at you or is there another situation occurring that needs your attention? As hard as it may be, do everything you can to try to deter your self from joining in the frustration unless a long beep is used for immediate danger alerts. Initiating a beep battle never leads to anything good or productive.

Multiple Short Beeps

If you hear multiple short beeps it can mean multiple things. Multiple short beeps can be used in a time of emergency. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, multiple short beeps can be used to show support such as honking to encourage a runner or a school car wash.

The bottom line in horn honking etiquette is to use the correct beep at the correct time. Avoid beeping out of frustration. When you are beeped at, take a quick analysis of the situation. Being prepared for any troubleshooting in traffic around you will make for a safer drive.


Traffic Jam