Is Honking a Necessity?

My father often complains I don’t blow horn in streets.

Well, first of all, roads in residential areas are not meant for vehicles, they are 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 a privilege.

Yes, I also used to honk until recently, but then I overcome that nasty habit.

It goes back to 1992.

One of my friends taught me 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 practise as much as I could. Since it was a new experience for me, I was not confident enough in the beginning. The only way for me to alert people on the streets was honking, and I used to blow like crazy.

So, honking started as a precautionary measure to avoid collisions.

My confidence kept growing with practice, and within 3-4 months I was confident enough to ride the scooter even on busy roads.

Unfortunately, the honking stuck with me. I used to blow horn even in empty streets or even in odd hours like, early morning or late at night.

Honking Irritates Like Anything

It was when I purchased my first motorbike in 2007 that I started questioning my honking habit.

I also started imagining how peaceful the world could be if people stopped honking.

I used to get irritated when people honked on my back unnecessarily which eventually made me realise that others must be feeling the same when I blew the horn without any need.

Soon, I realised 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 the road are aware of you.
  • You need to alert seniors walking or crossing busy streets because many senior citizens develop hearing issues.
  • 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 where they’re walking. Blowing horn to grab their attention is a valid idea.

The Question is:

  • Is there a blind curve on every road?
  • Are there seniors everywhere walking down the streets?
  • Have all the children started walking on roads only?

If not, then why do we honk?

And mind you, honking is not the same as blowing the horn. It is the act of blowing horn unnecessarily.

Let Me Take You Back to the 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 vehicle or the wagon. 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 the 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, horns grew into an essential aspect of the automobile industry.

New, more powerful horns took the place of “Bhonpoos”, and today we have something called “pressure horns” – loud enough to give you a heart attack.

If you see carefully, 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.

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 the car driver in front of you is blind.

But wait, did I say ‘blind?’

Well, the fact that he’s driving means he’s not blind.

Does that mean he, too, can notice the signal turning from red to green?

Hey, watch out! He’s looking at you, probably trying to figure out why did you 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 sound to the rider in front of you? And would it help either of you?

It reminds me of an incident:

I was coming back from South Delhi. It was evening time, and the traffic was strolling.

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 front of him, he started blowing the horn like crazy, and shouted, “How are you feeling now?” The biker, who was creating a ruckus 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.

Lousy Time Management

You honk when you’re late for work.

But are your fellow travellers responsible for your bad time management skills?

Impatience

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 even realising it.

You believe it’s normal, except that it is not.

Do you need a louder pressure horn or do you need to learn to be a little patient?

Honking is nothing but just an unconscious habit. You can change any habit the moment you realise that a particular pattern is no longer serving you.

So, would you be more aware the next time you feel like pressing the button?

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Avdhesh Tondak is a blogger & voice actor from Western Uttar Pradesh, currently living in New Delhi. He writes personality development articles for young people (students, and young professionals) to help them overcome self-growth challenges. Subscribe to receive his new articles by email.