Canada’s weirdest laws: in P.E.I. you have to honk if you want to pass a car

In P.E.I., a law actually exists that requires motorists to honk their horn when passing another driver.
In P.E.I., a law actually exists that requires motorists to honk their horn when passing another driver. (Photo: iStock)

Can you imagine what would happen if we had laws requiring that every time a driver passes another car, they have to honk?

In our big cities, people would have a symphony of collective headaches from all the noise.

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However, in the much smaller province of Prince Edward Island, a law actually exists that requires drivers to honk their horn when passing another driver.

S. 154 (1)(a) of the P.E.I. Highway Traffic Act states:

“Subject to this Act, the driver of a vehicle that is overtaking another vehicle (a) shall sound a clearly audible signal by horn.”

The act doesn’t specify that drivers have to use their car horn. Does that mean a driver could buy a novelty horn and honk at other drivers when passing? Or could a driver even use one of those annoying and extremely loud Vuvuzelas that were used to disturb soccer games during the 2010 Soccer World Cup held in South Africa? On second thought, the latter would likely see a person get charged with mischief.

P.E.I.’s Registrar of Motor Vehicles, Doug McEwan, told The Globe and the Mail, that the requirement to honk when passing is obsolete and hasn’t been enforced in “many years,” though he adds that the law was probably put on the books “in a time when there were very minimal traffic counts on Island roads and probably during a time when the roads were narrow.”

Before you go thinking that P.E.I. is the only place where this weird rule still exists, think again. New Jersey also has such a rule though it’s not enforced.

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Though the law is no longer enforced in P.E.I., some driving instructors still teach it, such as Summerside, P.E.I. driving instructor Stewart Brookings who teaches students not to “lay on the horn”, but gently make a “single or double tap” before passing another car.

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