New research commissioned by independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has revealed that one in four (25%) of the 1,000 drivers surveyed admitted they are likely to honk their horn at motorists driving too slow in front of them, while 20% said that they have sounded their horn at learner drivers.
The findings are in contrast to advice in the Highway Code, which states that drivers should only use their horn when warning someone of danger due to another vehicle, or to any other kind of danger —not to indicate annoyance.
Under the law, motorists mustn't use their horn while stationary or while driving in a built-up area between the hours of 11:30pm and 7:00am.
According to IAM RoadSmart, the police possess powers to issue fixed penalty notices (FPN) for these offences. If drivers object to the FPN, they can challenge the decision in court, but if magistrates agree with the police, they have the jurisdiction to increase the fine to up to £1,000.
A Freedom of Information request (FOI) to the Metropolitan Police revealed that prosecutions are reasonably low in London. Between 2015-2019, just 49 drivers were prosecuted for sounding their horn at night, or while stationary.
Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, commented: “Most drivers know the rules of the road when it comes to wearing a seatbelt or using a mobile phone. However, some lesser-known wrong doings, such as inappropriately sounding your horn, can also lead to serious consequences such as fines. These fines will set motorists back financially in a time when many are seriously feeling the cost-of-living squeeze.
“Most importantly, not only are drivers running the risk of being faced with a hefty fine, but they could also be seriously risking their own, as well as other road users’ personal safety. Sounding your car’s horn aggressively or at an inappropriate time can seriously panic other road users, leading them to make rushed and risky decisions. You never know how another driver might react to such a challenge, so why risk confrontation on our already congested roads? So, rather than being eager to sound your horn, we would urge motorists to keep calm and motor on!”