Are Train Horns Illegal In New York?

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Train horns, the resonant warnings sounded by locomotives, are an essential part of keeping drivers and pedestrians safe from the path of an oncoming train. While it was not the original intent of the product, people in many states have been implementing train horns into other vehicles, and it has become a trendy modification for some folks. Some people swear by the use of train horns, but their legality as a feature on vehicles other than a locomotive is debatable and often determined by state or municipality. If you are considering installing a train horn in a car or other motor vehicle, it is important to first know if they are legal where you live to prevent yourself from any legal consequences.

Are Train Horns Illegal In New York

With varying and somewhat unclear information polluting the Internet via forums and unverified sources, you may find yourself wondering- are train horns legal in New York? The New York State Safety Commission used to provide the following information on their site, direct from the state’s traffic statutes, which is open to interpretation:

Every motor vehicle, operated or driven upon the public highways of the state, shall be provided with … a suitable and adequate horn or other device for signaling, which horn or device shall produce a sound sufficiently loud to serve as a danger warning but shall not be used other than as a reasonable warning nor be unnecessarily loud or harsh.

While the law does not exclude train horns by name, it is likely that most members of law enforcement would consider a train horn to make noise in excess of what is necessary to ensure traffic safety. The non-specific nature of this statute leaves some room for debate, and a driver who received a ticket and fine could potentially argue their case in court, but should generally consider the use of their train horn to be a violation of the existing statute for their own legal safety.

Where Can I Find Out More Information?

If you are interested in installing a train horn within your vehicle, you can read more about the legality of horn use via the New York Department of Motor Vehicles website. There, you will find any existing statute for traffic in the state and be able to fully determine the legality of your actions. It is important to note that while the use of a train horn in a traffic situation could be considered a violation, merely having one installed without using it is rarely illegal in any municipality.

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