Awareness and Enforcement of the NYC Noise Code

10.5.16 UPDATE: It is curious that “Don’t Honk” signs still exist on streets in the Ditmas Park neighborhoods of Rugby, Argyle and Marlborough Roads, between Ditmas and Albermarle Roads. I guess people who live in the more affluent neighborhoods deserve to live in quiet and peaceful neighborhoods.

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“Don’t Honk” signs were removed on all streets/street corners in 2015 (?) because the federal standard for signs, signals and pavement markings, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) did not recognize these signs. So, as I was informed in an email back in 2015 from the DOT:

“New York City Traffic Rules prohibit the honking of vehicle horns except when necessary to warn a person or animal of danger. Therefore, signs are not needed for this purpose. These signs detract attention away from essential traffic control devices.”*

SO, the Traffic Rules exist, but, the thing is, how many people are AWARE of these rules, and, further, if people aren’t aware, then how can the rules/code be enforced by the police? If noise complaints are registered via 311, then filtered to one’s local NYPD precinct (shout out to my local precinct, the 66th! Thank you for attempting to enforce a traffic code that drivers aren’t aware of or, don’t care about), the complaint is investigated–to what extent, I’m not sure–and then the complaint is closed. The cycle continues and the problem still exists. If the signage was returned, wouldn’t that at least help control the problem of unnecessary vehicle honking? If drivers were aware that a law existed, then, wouldn’t that deter them from violating it because of the “threat” of a monetary fine?

*I find this statement to be ridiculous…because if drivers are that distracted, then they shouldn’t be driving in the first place because pretty much anything could be classified as a “distraction”–store signage, a person walking down the street, usage of a cell phone, etc.

311 Seems To Be A Joke…

So far this week, I’ve made two noise complaints on the 311 website about the honking in the neighborhood. One on Saturday and one yesterday. While the response, or turnaround time has been fairly quick (ie: complaint sent to the appropriate police precinct), the results have been nil. I have received this response:

“Your Service Request was closed.

The Police Department responded and upon arrival those responsible for the condition were gone.”

Granted, Saturday is the ONLY quiet day in my neighborhood, I described the issue, hoping that perhaps someone would arrive during the hours and days of the week that I mentioned in the complaint. I guess that was my mistake for filing the complaint on Saturday. I realized this after calling my police precinct and talking with the nice/helpful switchboard operator. He suggested making a complaint on the very day/time that the noise is occurring. So, I made a complaint yesterday afternoon when the Avenue was backed up because of a few double parked trucks and the honking continued off and on for a few hours (thirty seconds of silence is unheard of). I had mentioned in my complaint that if a police car were to just sit at the intersection for a brief amount of time, then they’d witness/hear the noise. The complaint was submitted at 3:54pm and closed at 10:32pm.

SIGH.

I guess the police have more pressing matters (??) in Kensington and Boro Park to deal with than to post someone at a busy intersection to monitor unnecessary noise. I’m not sure what needs to happen next. Do we need to educate drivers about noise pollution? Or, should the city re-evaluate it’s decision to remove (because they stated they needed to comply with the “No honking” signage at street corners? A snippet of my email response last March from the NYC DOT:

“New York City Traffic Rules prohibit the honking of vehicle horns except when necessary to warn a person or animal of danger. Therefore, signs are not needed for this purpose. These signs detract attention away from essential traffic control devices. Additionally, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), the federal standard for signs, signals, and pavement markings in the United States, does not recognize these signs.  As a result, the Department has commenced the removal of existing “Don’t Honk” signs.

Unnecessary noise is a violation of the New York City Noise Control Code and carries a fine of $350. Police officers and traffic enforcement agents should issue summonses to any vehicles found to be in violation of these regulations. If you believe that there is an ongoing problem of motorists illegally honking horns at this location, please contact the local precinct.”

How can this Code be enforced? If no one gets ticketed, then what’s the point of having the code in place? Are drivers unaware of this noise code? Does there need to be some re-education here about this matter?? Are drivers just idiots who don’t give a shit? Or, if this were a more affluent neighborhood, would this even be an issue (meaning, would the police issue tickets to drivers in violation of the Code)? (the median household income as reported in 2013 is $44, 304.) These are hypotheses I will continue to explore and post my findings on this blog. In the meantime, I am going to contact (again) the DEP about this issue.

To be continued….