My father often complains I don’t blow horn in streets. Well, first of all, streets are not meant for vehicles, they are meant for pedestrians. It’s a miracle that you’re allowed to ride a bike or drive a car in the streets. I’d say that it’s rather a privilege. And with privilege comes responsibility. Honking when driving in streets – that’s awful.
How I overcame my habit of honking is a long story. It goes back to 1992 when one of my friends taught me how to ride a scooter. It took him only a couple of hours to make me understand how things work. After that, I was supposed to practice as much as I could. Since it was a new experience for me, I was not confident enough in the beginning. The only thing I could think of to alert people on the streets was honking. I used to blow the horn like crazy. That was my idea of letting people know that there’s a scooter behind them, and if they didn’t give way, they might get hurt.
So, honking started as a precautionary measure to avoid collisions. And I don’t remember when did that spontaneous gesture turned into a habit without me even suspecting it.
My confidence kept growing with practice. Within 3 -4 months I was confident enough to ride the scooter even on busy roads. But one unfortunate thing happened – honking became a part of my subconscious.
I started believing that honking was important to ride a vehicle, as are brakes. I used to blow horn even in vacant streets or even in odd hours like, early morning or late at night.
Honking irritates like anything
It was only when I purchased my first motorbike in 2007 that I started getting suspicious about that honking habit. I started questioning my honking behavior and also started imagining how peaceful the world could be if people stopped honking. I realized it because when people honked on my back without any reason, it irritated me like anything, and eventually, it made me realize that when I honk, others must be getting irritated.
Soon, I realized another thing – blowing horn is a necessity only 2 out of 10 times.
Generally, you need to blow the horn when:
- You’re about to approach a blind curve, and you’re unable to see what lies in front of you.
- The fog is quite dense and you can’t see a thing, so along with the headlights on, you can keep blowing the horn to alert people and vehicles alike.
- You’re passing through an area at night where streetlights are missing or not functioning. You want to make sure that other people on road are aware of you.
- You need to alert elderly people walking or crossing busy streets because many elderly people develop hearing issues. They face a hard time because of hearing challenges.
- You suspect that the children passing the street are not attentive enough. And that’s natural. Children are fun-loving people. Most of the times they are too immersed in talking with each other when crossing roads. In fact, at times, they aren’t even aware of the fact that they are walking on a road. Blowing horn to grab their attention is a valid idea.
- Is there a blind curve on every road?
- Are there elderly people everywhere walking down the streets?
- Have all the children started walking on roads only?
If not, they why this habit of honking? Blowing horn is not same as honking to begin with. Honking is the act of blowing horn without any need. That’s why it’s called honking.
Let me take you back to older times
In older times, there used to be bullock carts and horse carriages and things like that. But there used to be no horns other than the voice of the person driving the cart or the carriage. He used to shout slogans like, “Watch out”, “Babu Ji, pay attention”, etc.
Then came bicycles. And they had bells. The bells were, though not horns in a technical sense, but they were the first to have started the tradition of horns.
The sweet sound of bells on bicycles took place of the human voice. Since it was not taxing on human vocal chords to do “trin-trin”, people started using the bells as often as they liked.
Then came “Bhonpoos.” They were kind of annoying. That’s why we address people who speak more than required, “Bhonpoos.”
Over a period of time, horns grew into an important aspect of the automobile industry. New, more powerful horns took place of “Bhonpoos”, and today we have something called “pressure horns.” Pressure horns are the loudest of them all. Horribly loud! They put pressure on the human nervous system by making human beings nervous; that’s why they’re called “Pressure horns.”
If you see closely, the horn is nothing except an extension of the human voice. And hence blowing horn can be argued as fair in the name of freedom of expression. But is it really freedom of expression?
Why do you honk?
Have you ever thought why do you blow horn the moment signal turns from red to green? Is there some secret logic behind it that you’re trying to hide from us?
Yes, you must blow the horn at the signal if you’re sure that the car driver in front of you is blind, and he cannot notice the signal has turned from red to green. If that’s the case, then obviously, it’s your moral duty to alert the driver. But wait, did I say “blind?” If that’s true, then how come he’s driving a car? Well, the fact that he’s driving a car means he’s not blind. Does that mean he, too, can notice the signal turning from red to green? Hmm…Looks like he can see. Hey, watch out! He’s looking at you, probably trying to figure out why did you just honk? 🙄
Does honking help speed up the traffic?
If there’s a traffic jam and the vehicles are moving dead slow, does honking help? And how would you feel if the guy behind you starts honking? Would you also honk to the rider in front of you? And would it help anyone of you?
It reminds me of an incident. I was coming back from South Delhi. It was evening time and the traffic was quite heavy. When I reached Palam underpass (near Palam airport), I noticed a biker honking terribly to the guy in front of him. The guy in the front (who was also riding a bike) looked back annoyingly and gave way to the biker behind him. As soon the biker from behind came in his front, he started honking like crazy, and also shouted, “how are you feeling now?” The biker, who was honking like a maniac just seconds ago, got embarrassed like anything.
It seems we feel the pain only when we go through it.
Some of the reasons behind honking
Poor driving skills
When people don’t know how to drive, they seem to honk more often because they are not confident enough to be on the road.
Bad time management
When you’re late for work, you tend to honk so that people, who aren’t late, give you way, and you can pass through them, and reach your destination on time. But is it their fault that you haven’t mastered time management techniques? And can honking help you learn time management in future?
Impatience seems to be the latest trend among human beings. We want results faster. And this tendency to want everything here and now generates anxiety. That anxiety reflects on roads too. You honk without knowing why are you honking. You feel it’s normal, except that it is not. Do you really need a louder pressure horn or do you just need to learn to be a little patient?
Honking is nothing but just an unconscious habit. You can change any habit the moment you realize that a particular habit is no longer serving you.
So, would you be more aware the next time you feel like pressing the horn button?