By Jordan W. Charness
You’ve seen me comment on some of the e-mails and letters from people who read this column, but here’s one that struck a chord with me during the dismally cold month of January last year. Let’s see if you can picture the following scene:
Dear Mr. Charness,
I am a beloved reader of your “Steering you right” articles in Autos and the Montreal Gazette. I too love cars, but I love the economics of cars. I have a question about the rights of pedestrians walking on the street. It would be greatly appreciated if you answered, but if not, it’s okay; this email would be my outlet to vent my anger. My story is as follows:
I live on the South Shore of Montreal, and as every Montrealer may remember, there was a heavy downcast of snow last week of 30 cm. Since I live on a small street, there is a lot of accumulation of snow and ice at the sides of the street. The only place where there is bare ground is in the middle of the street. Today, as I was getting home from school (2nd year CEGEP College), I got off the bus and started walking on the street, as there are no sidewalks and the sides of the street are full of snow and ice.
As I was walking, an SUV started honking at me, long honks without end. I wouldn’t get so frustrated if the man had just honked politely, but he beeped his horn like a maniac. At this point, I just wanted him to go away, and told him to “shooooo” (“shoooo” refers to something very vulgar that involves a finger). I wouldn’t have reacted that way if he had honked politely, and yelled at me from his car. So I told him that there’s a lot of ice snow at the side of the road (and nowhere else to walk).
He started getting out of his car. I threatened him that I’d call the police. That’s when he started getting back into his car and drove away.
My question is: is there any law or rule that I can use to back up my calling of the police? I surely don’t want to press any charges or anything (I don’t believe in revenge). But is there anything that I’d be able to tell him so he wouldn’t do it again? (He honks at everyone, even at old ladies on the street). Thank you anyway, (I feel better now that I have vented my anger), if you don’t reply it’s okay, I’ll still read your column.
Sincerely, Philip H.
As a matter of fact, Philip would be allowed to call the police. It is an offence in most jurisdictions to honk your horn unless you need to do so because of an emergency. Badgering a pedestrian to get out of your way scarcely qualifies as an emergency.
The law is quite specific that you must have a working car horn installed on every car but is equally clear that you’re only allowed to honk your horn when you really need to do so.
This type of behaviour might also be considered as a form of intimidation and continued behaviour of that sort would also be grounds for calling the police. Although it is unlikely that the Horn blower will be arrested on the spot, merely having the police speak to him would go a long way toward solving the problem.