The car horn is one of our greatest allies on the road. However, in some circumstances, it is viewed as an offence. Be alert, but not alarmed.
Regulation 224 of the Road Rules 2014 (NSW) states that a driver must not use, or allow to be used, a horn, or similar warning device, fitted to or in the driver’s vehicle unless:
- it is necessary to use the horn, or warning device, to warn other road users or animals of the approach or position of the vehicle, or;
- the horn, or warning device, is being used as part of an anti-theft device, or an alcohol interlock device, fitted to the vehicle.
Using a horn in any other situation currently attracts a fine of $337 or, if the driver elects to take the matter to court, a fine of up to $2,200.
Examples of situations where it is an offence to use a vehicle’s horn include:
- a quick beep to say hello or goodbye to, or otherwise attract the attention of friends;
- using the horn out of frustration or anger, rather than to warn of an approach or position, and;
- honking to get another vehicle to start moving when your vehicle is stationary behind it, again when this is not to warn of an approach or your position.
Other parts of Australia
Other Australian states and territories have similar rules.
In Western Australia, section 190 of the Road Traffic Code 1970 prescribes a “modified penalty” of one penalty unit—which is currently $50 in that state—for similarly using a vehicle’s horn other than to warn other road users or animals of the approach or position of a vehicle, or as part of an alarm or alcohol interlock device.
In Tasmania, regulation 224 of the Road Rules 2009 prescribes a fine equivalent to 0.75 penalty units—or $122.25—for the same offence, or up to five penalty units—or $815—if the case is dealt with by a court.
In Queensland, regulation 224 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009 prescribes a fine of $66 for the offence, or up to 20 penalty units—or $2,611—if the matter comes before a court.
In Victoria, regulation 224 of the Road Safety Road Rules 2017 sets a maximum penalty of one penalty unit, or $161.19 for the offence.
In the Australian Capital Territory, regulation 224 of the Road Transport (Road Rules) Regulation 2017 prescribes a fine of $193 for the offence, or up to 20 penalty units, or a whopping $3,200 if a driver elects to take the matter to court.
And in the Northern Territory, regulation 224 of the Traffic Regulations 2007 adopts the offence, while regulation 93 prescribes the “general penalties” for offences under the regulations as a maximum of six months in prison and/or 20 penalty units, or $2,600.