Traffic Tips: Honking your own horn
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By Sgt. Julian Huerta
This week's traffic law is found in The Texas Transportation Code, 547.501
Audible Warning Devices
(a) A motor vehicle shall be equipped with a horn in good working condition that emits a sound audible under normal conditions at a distance of at least 200 feet.
(b) A vehicle may not be equipped with, and a person may not use on a vehicle, a siren, whistle, or bell unless the vehicle is:
(1) A commercial vehicle that is equipped with a theft alarm signal device arranged so that the device cannot be used as an ordinary warning signal; or
(2) An authorized emergency vehicle that is equipped with a siren, whistle, or bell that complies with Section 547.702.
(c) A motor vehicle operator shall use a horn to provide audible warning "only" when necessary to insure safe operation.
(d) A warning device, including a horn, may not emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound or a whistle.
Why the emphasis on this particular traffic law?
We have received questions as to whether there is a maximum or minimum decibel level for vehicle horns. As you can see, there is no decibel level attached to a vehicle horn, but section (d) covers any horn which is unreasonably loud, harsh or a whistle.
Vehicles equipped with loud train-like horns are in violation of section (d), as a train horn is extra loud because of the nature of what the engineer is trying to do, which is to warn the train is approaching a crossing. A passenger vehicle with this type of horn is unreasonable and dangerous, as anyone within ear shot will assume a train is near and they may overreact.
A vehicle horn is also not intended to be used as an expression of anger or frustration with other drivers. Misuse of the horn in this fashion is a Class C misdemeanor fine from $500 to $1,000.
Traffic enforcement isn't about generating revenue, as some may think. Traffic enforcement is focused on correcting driving errors by the issuance of warnings and citations as a means of education to help assure a safe driving environment for everyone.
If you have a traffic law question, contact Sgt. Julian Huerta, Victoria Po lice Department Traffic Safety Unit, 361-485-3700.