GEE AND URSULA

Honking car horn illegal in Washington despite rising road rage trends

Dec 20, 2022, 6:22 PM | Updated: Dec 21, 2022, 2:23 pm
honk...
(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu via Getty Images)

By law, it is illegal to use your horn in Washington state outside of emergency use — and local residents are blaming transplants for the increased aggression on the roads.

“Drivers of ‘old Seattle’ tend to be law-abiding and polite, but also slow and passive-aggressive,” Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington State Transportation Center, told Axios. “They do not appreciate flippant horn use. Newcomers to Seattle, by contrast, often drive faster and use their horns more frequently.”

PEMCO Insurance conducted a poll last year and found 68% of Seattle drivers believe it’s at least somewhat appropriate to honk, whereas about half (46%) said the same in 2017.

Scenarios: ‘I want my husband to get a matching tattoo with me’

The numbers are similar in Portland, as 61% said it’s appropriate to honk at others compared to 52% in 2017.

“Basically, if you’re in an emergency situation, someone’s about to hit you, you’re about to hit them — that’s when you’re restricted in the use of your horn,” KIRO Traffic Reporter Chris Sullivan said on The Gee and Ursula Show. “You’re not supposed to use a tap-tap on the person sitting on their phone at the red light that hasn’t moved for five seconds, which I do, and a lot of us do. But again, the language is reasonably necessary. So there’s a lot of wiggle room in there because I have never heard of one officer ever pulling over anybody for using their horn.”

Washington ranked ninth in a Forbes study into the states with the most aggressive drivers, with Utah, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nevada, Maryland, and Indiana as the only states logging a higher score.

According to a survey released by AutoVantage, the 10 cities with the most road rage are San Diego, Calif.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Houston, Texas; Miami, Fla.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Atlanta, Ga.; Detroit, Mich.; Dallas, Texas; and New York, N.Y.

AutoVantage tracked changing lanes without notice, tailgating, talking on a cell phone, honking, cursing/yelling, and waving first and arms as metrics to determine road rage.

More from Gee and Ursula: Should Tacoma Utilities Director be making over 400K?

“I would argue that we don’t honk anywhere near enough,” said Gee Scott, co-host of The Gee and Ursula Show.

“I wish people would use their horns a little bit more when, for instance, people are merging over. It’s a tool to be used to prevent accidents and dangerous situations,” Sullivan responded. “But yes, technically, the law is it’s only supposed to be used when you’re trying to prevent something bad from happening.”

According to Forbes, more than 1-in-5 drivers have seen someone cause an accident due to road rage. 23% of drivers know of someone in their state that has become injured in a road rage incident.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

amazon hiring...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Ursula: Amazon targeting ‘younger and less expensive’ coders

Amidst mass layoffs, Amazon might also be changing their hiring policy for entry-level programmers to restrict positions to recent grads.
2 days ago
right on red...
Bill Kaczaraba

Gee & Ursula: Right turns on red may become a thing of the past

Under new legislation proposed in the state Senate, right turns on red at many intersections may become a thing of the past in the state.
6 days ago
african-american studies...
Bill Kaczaraba

Gee & Ursula: FL downsizing Black studies ‘doesn’t erase history’

The College Board has released a stripped-down version of its new Advanced Placement course on Black studies.
7 days ago
dedo...
Frank Sumrall

KIRO’s Darren Dedo recovering after battle with bilateral pneumonia

Through ECMO and amazing medical care, more than a month later, Dedo was able to join The Gee and Ursula Show remotely from his hospital bed.
8 days ago
Seattle Police...
Bill Kaczaraba

Gee & Ursula: Naming officer in pedestrian death was appropriate

Gee & Ursula believe that releasing the name of the police officer involved in the deadly pedestrian crash in Seattle was appropriate.
8 days ago
scenarios...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Scenarios: I’m not ok with my stepdaughter spending my husband’s money

On the Gee and Ursula Show, hosts Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin give advice to help other people in a segment called … Scenarios.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Honking car horn illegal in Washington despite rising road rage trends