An estimated eight million motorists in the UK are running the risk of fines of £1,000 each for sounding their vehicles horn inappropriately.

New research commissioned by IAM RoadSmart has discovered that drovers don’t know the rules about honking their horn.

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. Meanwhile, one in five (20%) say that they have sounded their horn at learner drivers.

Movers and shakers

The findings are in stark contrast to the sound advice outlined in the Highway Code. This states that drivers should only use their horns when their car is moving and when they need to warn other road users of their presence.

Blasting a horn aggressively is also against the rules because it should only be sounded for a viable and reasonable intention. It is also illegal to sound your horn while driving in a built-up area between the hours of 11:30pm and 7:00am.

Price of misdemeanours

The police possess powers to issue non-endorsable fixed penalty notices (FPN) of £30 for these offences. If drivers object to the FPN, they can of course challenge the decision in court. However, if magistrates agree with the police, they have the jurisdiction to increase the fine to up to £1,000.

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, says many motorists are unaware of these less trumpeted rules of the road.  “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.

Greig adds that ignorance is no excuse and that there are serious reasons for the rules. “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? Rather than being eager to sound your horn, we would urge motorists to keep calm and motor on!”


How likely are you to sound your horn at a driver who is driving too slowly in front of you?

Extremely likely 10% 97
Somewhat likely 16% 155
Somewhat unlikely 46% 458
Extremely unlikely 29% 290
NET: Likely 25% 252
NET: Unlikely 75% 748


Have you ever sounded your horn at a learner driver who has stalled in front of you or is taking too long at a junction?

Yes, every time 10% 99
Yes, sometimes 10% 100
No 80% 801
NET: Yes 20% 199


Do you find yourself getting angry at other’s driving when they make mistakes?

Yes, very often 11% 108
Often 30% 301
Not very often 49% 491
Never 10% 100
NET: Often 41% 409

* All percentages are rounded to the nearest decimal

To learn more about IAM RoadSmart, click here.