Honking your car horn has an entirely different purpose than it did back in the early 1900’s when it was invented. I can see in the very near future, a car horn will be equipped with a variety of sounds that can be chosen, according to the mood of the driver. Perhaps you could choose a cow’s “moo” for someone driving too slowly. Much like a cattle drive, it could even play a gentle tune. Like Roy Roger’s 1940’s “Git along little dogies…” Or, for when someone is not paying attention when the light turns green, perhaps it can make a sound like someone clearing their throat. Don’t you think that humor is the best remedy for any tense situation? That’s why I like to use humor on dates. Like escaping out of the ladies room window on a first/last date (for me, the first date is always the last).
So, the horn was originally invented to warn others of a vehicle’s approach or presence. As in exiting an alley, where you will be crossing a sidewalk occupied by pedestrians. Or, honking to get someone’s attention when you feel that you may be in their blind spot. Because it’s always better to be safe than sorry. The horn is also to be used to call attention to some hazard. Generally, you should only honk the horn when reasonably necessary to insure safe driving. So, when is it unacceptable to use your horn? Well, according to my Dad, it is totally inappropriate for your “date” to honk when they pull into your driveway, rather than coming to the door. And, looking back, he probably didn’t come to the door because he was barefoot, which was also socially unacceptable to my dear old Dad. Or when your neighbor feels that they need to honk the horn at their kid to get a move on because they’re going to be late for school (ugh). Honking to scold or correct another driver’s mistakes is also unacceptable and could lead to a busted windshield or a keying to your car’s flawless paint finish. It is against the law to honk in some areas, such as hospital zones. To the British, the word “honking” means “to vomit.” The British are always spot-on.
Honestly, people are so impatient when the red light turns green. They don’t even give you time to take your foot off the brake and put it on the gas before they start honking at you. Like “What, are you waiting for, another shade of green?” I’ve been told that, in New York City, they start honking at you when the cross light turns yellow. Just to make sure that you’re paying attention. But texting, even when stopped at a red light in New York City is against the law. But not everyone abides by the law. I suppose that drivers have become conditioned to expect that most traffic doesn’t immediately move when the light turns green. We’ve all sat through two red lights because the person in front didn’t go when the light turned green. At least not until they looked up and realized that the light had already turned yellow. But too late for you. So you slowly pull up into the front lines, preparing yourself to sit through another red light.
So the horn is not to be used to “vent.” It is a communication device which should be used as such.
In designating a modified “Taxi of Tomorrow” in New York City, the Taxi and Limousine Commission decreed the taxi must have “a low-annoyance horn.” In addition, an interior light must flash when the button is pushed, in part to help police catch illegal honking. And there are different requirements in many countries. For instance, in some European countries, South Korea and Japan, horns are required to be at least 93 decibels. That’s more than a lawnmower engine (90 decibels) but less than a loud motorcycle (95 decibels), according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders. And communication “disorder” it is. Perhaps the horn could even be deemed as communication “abuse.”
So lets lay off the horn, unless absolutely necessary. Cut everyone a break.
Until next week…
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Honking Your Car Horn – Comedy Defensive Driving