Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Public Safety and Homeland Security
Department of State Police
Department of State Police
Petition 84
Petition Information
Petition Title Restoring the proper use of automobile horns solely as a warning device.
Date Filed 9/14/2009   
Petitioner J. Tyler Ballance 
Petitioner's Request

 *A Petition for Rulemaking  is a request from the public to change, eliminate or create state regulations which are awaiting an agency decision. 

September 14, 2009
Title: Restoring the proper use of automobile horns solely as a warning device.
Substance and purpose of the rulemaking:
Horns are defined as warning devices and are intended to be used solely for that purpose. In recent years, manufacturers have coupled their electronic “keyless” entry systems to the auto horn or auto alarm, so that operators may select an entry option that sounds the horn or auto alarm, both upon entry and exit from the vehicle. The resulting cacophony of spurious horn/alarm blasts adds to ambient noise pollution and diminishes the effectiveness of horns as warning devices.
An amendment to the Code, 19VAC30-70-240, or a new section that specifically requires verification during annual inspections, that electronic entry systems are set to silent entry and exit, is recommended.
19VAC30-70-240. Horns and other warning devices.
1. Vehicle is not equipped with a horn in good working order, capable of emitting a sound audible under normal conditions over a distance of not less than 200 feet and is not firmly mounted.
2. A horn operating mechanism installed at a location readily accessible to the vehicle operator is not provided. Electrically operated horn, wiring, or electrical connections are defective.
*Suggested Additional Subsection:
3. If equipped with an electronic entry system, if system is set to any other setting other than SILENT entry and exit mode.
Reference to the legal authority of the agency to take the action requested:
§ 46.2-1059. Horns.
Every motor vehicle driven on a highway shall be equipped with a working horn capable of emitting sound audible under normal conditions for at least 200 feet.
(Code 1950, § 46-289; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-283; 1989, c. 727.)
§ 46.2-1060. Illegal sirens, whistles, etc.; unlawful use of warning devices; exceptions.
It shall be unlawful for any vehicle to be equipped with or for any person to use on any vehicle any siren or exhaust, compression or spark plug whistle, or horn except as may be authorized in this title. It shall be unlawful for any vehicle operated on a public highway to be equipped with any warning device that is not of a type that has been approved by the Superintendent. It shall further be unlawful for any person at any time to use a horn otherwise than as a reasonable warning or to make any unnecessary or unreasonably loud or harsh sound by means of a horn or other warning device. However, vehicles of common carriers or extraordinarily large and heavy vehicles may be equipped with such type of warning device as the Superintendent may require or permit.
Notwithstanding the provisions of this article, a siren, bell, or supplemental horn may be used on a vehicle as a noisemaker for an alarm system if the device is installed so as to prohibit actuation of the system by the driver while the vehicle is in motion.
(Code 1950, § 46-290; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-284; 1962, c. 146; 1970, c. 283; 1989, c. 727.)
Agency's Plan

The Board is requesting public comment on the petition to amend  regulations relating to inspection standards for automobile horns.  Following a public comment period, the Board will consider its action on the petition.

Comment Period Ended 11/13/2009
Agency Decision Take no action [Transmittal Sheet]    
Response Date 1/20/2010
Agency Decision Summary


The Department, after consideration of the petition, four public comments, existing regulations, possible economic impact, and the Code of Virginia has determined that no action will be taken on the petition. It should be noted that the regulations in question have been reviewed by Office of the Attorney General and deemed exempt regulations from the Virginia Administrative Process Act, Chapter 40 of Title 2.2 of the Code of Virginia.
As is noted in 19VAC30-70-1 the “Virginia Annual Motor Vehicle Inspection Program was developed and adopted to promote highway safety. Its aim is to assure that all Virginia registered vehicles are mechanically safe to operate over the highways of the Commonwealth.” The proposed change to the regulation has no significant nexus to this stated purpose. The argument that the chips diminish the effectiveness of horns as warning devices is not persuasive and the abuse of such devices may properly be handled as violations of appropriate noise ordinances. 
Of the four public comments received, one letter, two by Virginia regulatory Town Hall, and one by email, only the comment submitted by the petitioner himself supported the proposed action. The other comments focused on the usefulness of such devices and the adoption being outside the proper scope of the regulation in question. 
The additional requirement would place an economic burden on consumers, manufacturers, and inspections stations. Consumers would be required to have their vehicles altered to comply with the law. Inspection stations would be required to spend additional time ensuring compliance without any additional compensation which is limited by Code. Manufacturers would be required to ensure that vehicles sold or registered in Virginia are capable of complying with the law. 
In reaching its determination the Department also considered the fact that the effectiveness of the proposed regulation would be minimal as it would only apply to those vehicles registered in Virginia and subject to the Virginia Annual Motor Vehicle Inspection Program. Out of state vehicles operating in the Commonwealth would not be prohibited from having the devices in active mode.

Contact Information
Name / Title: Ronald B. Saunders  / Captain, Safety Division
Address: PO Box 27472
Richmond, 23261-7472
Email Address:
Telephone: (804)674-6774    FAX: (804)674-2961    TDD: ()-