In Texas, we’ve all honked at other drivers for cutting us off. But is that legal?

Driving in traffic on any Texas highway is frustrating, especially when other drivers cut you off.

For many, honking to register one’s displeasure is almost a natural reflex. But is it against the law?

Texas has over 18 million licensed drivers on the road, according to data in 2022 from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Many of those drivers in the Lone Star State are likely behind the wheel of a truck.

Honking at other vehicles may seem like commonplace, but is it exactly legal? Here’s what we know:

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If a driver cuts you off in Texas, is it illegal to honk your horn at them?

It depends on the situation, according to Texas Transportation Code section 547.501.

A motor vehicle must have a horn in working condition that emits a sound audible under normal conditions at a distance of at least 200 feet. The law also states that “a person may not use on a vehicle a siren, whistle, or bell unless the vehicle is”:

  • A commercial vehicle that is equipped with a theft alarm signal device arranged so that the device cannot be used as an ordinary warning signal.

  • An authorized emergency vehicle that is equipped with a siren, whistle or bell.

Furthermore, the law also states that:

  • A motor vehicle operator shall use a horn to provide audible warning only when necessary to insure safe operation.

  • A warning device, including a horn, may not emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound or a whistle.

Essentially, it depends on how and when the horn is used.

If the horn is being used to warn of potential safety risks, Texas law says you’re in the clear. But if you’re honking at cars in traffic in anger or frustration, you may be cited.

Does the same honking law apply to Fort Worth?

Yes, plus Fort Worth has its own ordinance on the use of horns.

Fort Worth code 22-10 on sounding horn and unnecessary noise, states:

“It shall be unlawful for the driver or operator of any motor-driven vehicle to sound the horn, gong or other device for giving warning upon same, in a loud, unusual or unnecessary manner or to use same at any time or place except as a warning of danger,” the ordinance states.