Horn honkers take New York

Blowing the horn is a fact of life, part of the fabric and culture of the city. Photo / Thinkstock
Blowing the horn is a fact of life, part of the fabric and culture of the city. Photo / Thinkstock

You can hear them Uptown, Midtown, Downtown: in the rush-hour snarl round Columbus Circle, at the foot of the Empire State off 5th, and down by the half-built World Trade Centre tower, as restive drivers navigate the barriers around the construction site.

They are car horns, blaring at street corners and in the middle of wide avenues all across Manhattan (and beyond, in Brooklyn and Queens).

For the most part, they're illegal. Local laws threaten drivers in the city with a US$350 ($418) fine lest they unnecessarily thrust their palms against the steering wheel.

But now, though the law remains in place, the city appears to be signalling defeat, with New York's Department for Transportation deciding to pull down all of its "Don't Honk" signs. After a two-and-a-half decade run, none will be visible by the end of the year. Officials say they want to rid the streets of signs that are routinely ignored, according to the New York Times. Department for Transportation figures indicate that complaints to a freephone number about unnecessary honking have declined by more than 60 per cent since 2008.

It was only in October that taxi drivers were warned to tone it down. The head of the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, David Yassky, texted New York's 13,000 taxi drivers, advising them that "honking is against the law except when warning of imminent danger".

The counter view, by the American Automobile Association, is more romantic: "Blowing the horn is a fact of life, part of the fabric and culture of the city". Robert Sinclair, an AAA spokesman, told the New York Times: "If it weren't there, people would wonder."

- Independent

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 17 Apr 2014 02:17:51 Processing Time: 540ms