The other day my wife told me that she saw a Facebook post from a local mom’s group that someone had gotten a ticket from Seattle police for honking at someone to move on a green light. I was somewhat surprised that the person was given a ticket, as I am sure you are as well. The Facebook group said that you are only allowed to honk in emergency situations.
The law in Seattle for honking your horn is found in RCW 46.37.380. It states that the driver of a motor vehicle shall when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation give audible warning with his or her horn but shall not otherwise use such horn when upon a highway.
Since the law states that you can use your horn when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation of driving it is up to someone’s interpretation whether you were using it to make someone safe. Therefore, the judge could review the infraction and determine whether someone was acting reasonably when they honked their horn at another person who was not going on a green light. The person’s argument could be that because the light was green, they would fear that someone may rear end them if they do not start moving soon.
The law does not state that it has to be an emergency, it only states that honking the horn will insure safe operation of the car. What is safe operation of the car? Safe operation of the car could be anything, really. It could be to warn someone not to turn into them that may not see you in their blind spot in order to avoid a car accident. It could be to make someone aware of you that is trying to turn right in front of you.
What it is not, however, is something that is from road rage. You cannot honk at someone because they cut you off for incessant amount of time. One honk warning them that they might hit you should be ok. Blaring on the horn is not ok after that point. This probably also means that you cannot honk at your friend to come out of the house because you are here. Basically, you cannot honk your horn for anything other than to warn or make other drivers aware of what you are doing or what they are doing to keep each other safe, seems like a reasonable interpretation of the statute.