What No One Seems to Know About Honking in New York


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Good morning. It’s Tuesday, and we’ll look at the dangers of tooting your own horn.

Credit…Sara Konradi for The New York Times

Beep, beep! You’re breaking the law.

Forward this to friends and family and see how surprised they are: Honking the horn of your car in New York City is often illegal.

Wait, what? How long has this been going on? And does anyone know?

My colleague, Erin Nolan, did some digging.

The current laws against honking have been on the books since the 1970s. “But really, it’s been illegal since 1936,” she said. That’s when the “prolonged and unreasonable blowing of a horn” was outlawed in New York.

Of course, it’s legal to use your horn when it’s needed for safety reasons. But now, tooting your horn when there is no “imminent danger” is a violation of New York City’s noise code.

But you’d never know horn blowing was illegal by standing on an Upper West Side street corner. “I was on 89th Street and Columbus Avenue,” Erin said, “and the second the traffic light turned green, there was already just tons of honking.”

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