Think twice before you toot. House lawmakers are weighing whether to ban "aggressive" horn-honking.
The omnibus bike and traffic safety bill, sponsored by Representatives Rebecca Kislak, Michelle McGaw, Liana Cassar, Brandon Potter and Teresa Tanzi, was presented to the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday night.
If enacted, it would institute a host of initiatives, such as:
-Allowing cities and towns to reduce speed limits on state roads in densely populated areas
-Establishing a training program to rehabilitate reckless drivers
-Requiring the development of a school curriculum on traffic laws and bike safety
-Outlawing horn-honking deemed unnecessary.
âAnything other than honking to warn wouldn't be allowed. According to the bill, that means no honking "to make an unreasonably loud or harsh sound" and no honking at bicyclists unless a crash is imminent.
But the proposal is facing criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island for what it says could be a violation of First Amendment rights.
A violation of free speech? In a letter urging the deletion of that section of the bill, the ACLU cited a 2011 case in Washington state that struck down a similar law. The organization contended that such a "broadly worded ban implicates free speech rights when drivers honk their horns to convey messages unrelated to public safety--including political messages."
In that case, the state's Supreme Court said examples of free speech via horn "might include: a driver of a carpool vehicle who toots a horn to let a coworker know it is time to go, a driver who responds to a sign that says 'Honk if you support our troops,' wedding guests who celebrate nuptials by sounding their horns, and a motorist who honks in support of someone picketing on a street corner."
Kislak called the free-speech concerns valid, and said she flagged them to the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition, which helped to draft the bill three years ago. However, Kislak so far has kept the honking rule in the legislation.
"I have been on the receiving end of dangerous honking while riding my bike in another state, and so I know that aggressive honking can cause incredibly hazardous conditions for bicycles," she said. "So I was happy to keep that in so that we have a conversation, but I do want to flag that there are also First Amendment concerns, so an important conversation to be had there."
The bill has been held for further study.
It's no secret that some truly terrible bills have passed across this country as the right tries their best to use 1930s Europe as a "how to govern" guide since they have no fucking clue, but for the most part, my home state hasn't been affected by the lunacy of the south.
This potential bill isn't as bad as attempting to legalize child marriage or a hateful clear-cut 1st Amendment violations against issues that don't exist (no teacher is actively trying to "convince" kids to transition, you fucking bigots) but its still a violation of the 1st Amendment. Freedom of expression, baby.
While I do agree people who abuse the horn are ass holes, especially within the first half-second of a light turning green (FUCKING CHILL!). But if we're trying to legislate car horns, we might as well find a Click remote and fast forward until the sun explodes; we're done as a society.
What even constitutes aggressive? Some people think spitting in your partner's mouth during sexual intercourse is aggressive, while for others, that's vital for their standing Tuesday lunch-break fuck sess. Is honking at some mother fucker who just cut you off aggressive? Is honking at some piece of shit riding your ass aggressive? Is a little toot-toot at a fellow "my jeep is my personality" person too aggressive? I'm just saying, where do you draw the line? How can a police officer enforce this? They already have enough on their plate. Now they have to determine the aggressiveness of a honk? I'm sure that won't turn into an issue at all!
I mean, is this not the most Rhode Island bull shit you've ever seen? Classic Rhody, tackling the major problems in this state! Why have drivable roads when you can arrest people for honking their car horns?
Seriously, I know it's beaten to death, especially with a variation of road (Rhode) in our name, but the roads in this state are truly dog shit. They look like 19th century surgery scars. Every road in the United States should be pristine.
This feels like a bunch of loser bikers crying to get their way. Wahhhhhh, someone honked, and it scared me on my toy! Maybe if you weren't swerving through traffic like Joseph Gordon Levitt in Premium Rush (I had to search "JGL bike movie" to complete that reference, so I understand if it goes above your head), this wouldn't be an issue?
I love to honk at idiot pedestrians in Newport that don't follow the rules of the road. Please don't take that from me. Someone has to teach them not to cross when they don't have the right of way.
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