Horn honking — a contagious cacophony in Gotham that never seems to shut up — sounds like it’s irritating fewer New Yorkers.
That’s according to a comparison of 311 calls and other city data indicating that excessive-honking complaints have been curbed in the past three years.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to think people are kinder and more considerate when it comes to honking,” said Arline Bronzaft, an environmental psychologist who chairs GrowNYC, a quality-of-life nonprofit.
Last year there were 1,885 honking complaints made to 311, plummeting 62 percent from 2008. Meanwhile, the total number of 311 calls increased 22 percent in that same period.
In addition, cops handed out 237 “unnecessary use of horn” tickets from January through October 2010 — unlikely to surpass the 450 in 2008 and 2009. And even the city Department of Environmental Protection, whose 45 inspectors focus on major noise problems, reported vehicle honking complaints dropped more than 50 percent in fiscal year 2010 from 2009.
So are drivers simply laying off the horn more?
It’s possible that some have made an effort to honk less because they realize they could be fined, Bronzaft said.
The city in 1986 began posting “DON'T HONK” signs throughout the city, increasing the fine from $50 to $350 more than a decade ago.
Then again, honking levels could still be the same, Bronzaft added, but there may be less complaints about it because “people might think it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
While city officials are hopeful that their fines have deterred honkers, DEP spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla said New Yorkers need to realize where they’re living.
“Don’t forget that this is the city that never sleeps,” Padilla said. “There will always be noise.”
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City’s top noise complaints in 2010
Construction after hours: 7,188 (down from 8,533 the year before)
Barking dog: 6,131 (down from 7,098)
Air conditioner/Ventilation equipment: 4,423 (up from 4,267)
Construction equipment: 3,954 (down from 6,176)
Jack hammering: 3,580 (down from 5,322)
Source: city Department of Environmental Protection