To honk or not to honk? That is the Seattle question

By Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter

The light turns green, the head is down, and you realize the driver in front of you is on a cell phone.

How long should you wait before hitting the horn? Is it two short beeps or one long blast?

Officially, it’s illegal to use your horn. Washington State Trooper Chris Webb says the horn, by law, is to be used for emergencies only.

“You’re supposed to just use it for safety reasons,” he said. “Someone veering into the lane, somebody coming toward you, something to signal that person that there’s an issue here and to warn them.”

Trooper Webb said very few officers will ding you for it, but it’s still illegal.

“I can’t say I’ve ever written up a person for it,” he said. “I don’t know many troopers that have, but it is a law that’s still out there and still functioning.”

And if Trooper Webb was stuck behind someone not paying attention at a stop light?

“I would not recommend it unless it’s an emergency situation … but a nice little tap (on the horn) would probably be better than a big (honk),” he said.

Deborah King, president and founder of Final Touch Finishing School, clarified which is appropriate – the little toot or the blast.

“A quick toot is a polite way,” she said. “To blast your horn longer, I think, is a rude reaction to a rude act.”

So how long should I wait before hitting the horn — one second, two seconds, five seconds?

“I think a couple of seconds is sufficient,” King said. “Anything longer than that, when you’re sitting there and you’re waiting and waiting, seems like an eternity.”

Now you know. A quick toot of the horn after a couple seconds is appropriate, though it is still against the law.

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