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City officials tell taxi drivers to lay off their horns

From busy streets and pushy pedestrians to noisy neighbors and crowded subways, there are certain realities of big city life that most New Yorkers simply accept as being unavoidable. Interestingly, there is one such "reality" of New York living that city officials are now attempting to eliminate altogether through a very unlikely mechanism: a traffic violation.

Specifically, officials with the city Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) sent a text message to New York City's nearly 13,000 taxi drivers, reminding them that if they honk their horns unnecessarily, they face a potential fine of $350.

"Horn-honking is a form of pollution, and it is simply unacceptable for our professional licensees to abuse their ability to create it," said TLC Commissioner David Yassky. "We are urging our drivers to be better neighbors, and to use their horns exclusively to warn of danger."

Such "dangers" include honking to avoid a potential car crash or to warn someone of an impending danger.

These $350 traffic violations can be issued by either officers with the New York Police Department (NYPD) or inspectors with the TLC. However, traffic experts all seem to agree that these would be hard to enforce due to the simple fact that it's nearly impossible to identify violators in the midst of a huge traffic jam.

Not surprisingly, the not-so-gentle reminder from the TLC is not being embraced by the city's many taxi drivers.

"If you don't honk, people don't move, and we need to make money," said one cabbie. "If you don't honk, people get in the way. In Times Square, people cross in the middle of the street."

Remarkably, Commissioner Yassky indicated that it was single email from a frustrated Manhattan resident about the noise level that proved to be the final straw.

"It's something that regular New Yorkers care about," he said.

Still, it remains to be seen how much this new effort will be enforced. After all, only 400 traffic citations were handed out by the NYPD to taxi drivers for horn honking last year.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Is the $350 fine fair or unfair?

Stay tuned for further developments from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...

If you have been issued a traffic violation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Sources:

The New York Post, "Cabbies told to 'lock horns'" Oct. 25, 2011

The New York Daily News, "Taxi commish's text message to drivers about emergency-only honking, $350 fine not well received" Oct. 25, 2011

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