Needless Honking and, by Extension, People

If I could go back in time and change history, I would travel back and kill every single person that was involved with developing car horns. I don’t know if you know this but car horns have gotten progressively louder over the decades. Sound dampening advancements in automobiles have reduced exterior noise so that car horns now have to be even louder in order to be heard. There are also more cars on the road today than ever before and countless pedestrians to watch out for. So, instead of improving public transportation or creating self driving automobiles, we just went with louder horns.

This would not be a problem if horns could be used properly but, since just about anybody can get a license, the concept of “honking” immediately spins into chaos when put into practice. When a person holds their horn down they aren’t saying, “Careful, friend, I’m in your blind spot and just want you to know that I’m here so that we can both remain happy and safe!” They are saying that they’ve decided they are more important than everyone else on the road and that you are human garbage.

This has gotten to be such a problem in Manhattan that they’ve employed a fine for honking in certain high traffic areas. Granted, I am not convinced that people are normally supposed to live in as close proximity as they do in New York. In most places people choose to live, the honk will not endlessly echo and amplify off the tall buildings until everyone of a weaker mental fortitude is left in a screaming heap upon the sidewalk. But this does not make the noise any less grating in other parts of the globe. No matter where you are, the prolonged honk almost always heralds in arrogant stupidity. I bet scientists could correlate poor driving habits with how often someone uses the horn.

There would definitely be outliers though. I passionately hate cab drivers because they absolutely refuse to adhere to any standard of driving safety or courtesy. Anytime I’m on my motorcycle, there is a pretty good chance I’ll have to avoid being killed by one. They pull out in front of you, cut you off, use multiple lanes, never signal, slam on the breaks directly in front of you and then accelerate as quickly as possible through a red light. However they are the only people I know that routinely use horns for their intended purpose. Horns are for alerting pedestrians wandering around in the street that you are about to crush them and for letting someone know that you are in their blind spot.

The long sustained honk is pointless because it doesn’t offer any extra information. It just conveys that the driver is in an agitated state while upsetting everyone else. I don’t know if you’ve ever been cursed out by someone in a foreign language, but it feels exactly the same way. You have no idea what the person is trying to tell you but you but the deepest and most primal part of you needs them to stop. Anytime someone yells at me in a language I don’t understand the first thought that runs through my mind is “If I crushed their windpipe, I bet that noise would stop.”

There are polite ways to honk the horn. One or two short taps suffice for almost all situations. It almost sounds cheerful. The sheer relief of hearing it end abruptly could probably be considered a form of emotional therapy. It’s a shame people are so unwilling to cut each other a break that any observable civility seems downright incredible to us all. Long-winded honks are just the tip of the iceberg. We live in a society of bewildering entitlement. So many people feel like the world owes them something when, in reality, success never goes anywhere without failure. Honk and frown all you want, it isn’t going to make traffic move any faster or your children love you. It won’t garner you any extra respect or help you achieve your dreams. All it does is help to contribute to all of the problems with society that are beating you down in the first place. We shouldn’t be sitting in our cars honking at each other, we should be setting those cars on fire and pushing them into banks and office buildings.

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28 Responses to Needless Honking and, by Extension, People

  1. I tend to agree with you on the honking thing. The only time I use my horn is when someone is in the process of trying to kill me. And it may be sustained if my arm is braced on the steering wheel while I try to avoid their huge truck or SUV in my little Kia Rio.

  2. How do you feel about honking for your team with the honking rhythm that corresponds to the words as in …Lets—-Go—-Is-lan-ders (if you’re a Ranger fan that will really piss you off….)

  3. Byron says:

    There should be technology built into car horns that make it so when you honk your horn a lot, a mechanical hand creeps out of your dashboard and grabs your love handles really hard. The hand will just hold on and twist the longer you honk your horn.

  4. I love that graph. NYC taxi drives are travisbickletastic. The last time I rode with one he drove left-footed and had his right foot swung up on the passenger side chair. He also stopped halfway to our destination to get out and piss on a building. Needless to say; I was enthralled.

  5. Your graph seems very accurate.

  6. This morning I was driving along all chipper and somebody honked angrily at me. I just smiled and waved… and they flipped me off. They did not appreciate me driving the speed limit… I was already late, I didn’t need a ticket too!

    • Posky says:

      I think roads and vehicles give people a sense of entitlement. It ads the comfort, safety and partial privacy that sort of makes you forget you’re on a shared roadway. Everyone just thinks it’s their road. There’s no way to win. If I go the speed limit people will pass me in my lane and honk angrily. If quickly get around them to avoid traffic all together they get mad that they’ve been passed and yell at me telling me that I don’t own the road.

      • calahan says:

        I used to give a friendly wave, too, but it didn’t seem to piss those people off much, so I’ve moved on to giving a thumbs-up with a big Kool-Aid grin.

  7. peculiarpotato says:

    I’ve arrived at the conclusion that horns have the opposite affect on the human being it is trying to warn or “caution.” It is a simple fact that when a loud random noise comes blaring at a person at 2000 mph, the brain sends a sudden response to the head to look for where the sound came from.the next step'(and probably the most deadly,)is the honing effect; it is at this moment were we squint our eyes and even heave our bodies in the direction of the sound. This is the deer in the headlights affect. Sometimes the persons body luckily has made the choice to dive….But most just stare into death as it consumes its inevitable next victim……….Have a great day, sincerely P.P……Out!

  8. prenin says:

    Better to sound like the Roadrunner than a screaming demon! :)

    God Bless and: ‘Beep Beep!’ :)


  9. urbannight says:

    If I’m at a spot where I can make a right turn on red, and am in fact planning to do just that but someone behind me starts to honk, I admit that I will then wait for the light to officially turn green before making my right turn.

  10. I’m a honker. I use it when someone tries to drive in the place I’m occupying, or they fall asleep at the light. That’s what it’s for. Get someone’s attention? Sometimes I really lay on the horn if the person driving by is on his phone.

  11. robyoublind says:

    I find two short, stacatto beeps are most polite. More polite than one, for some reason.

    Back in high school, my friends and I got three cars and figured out their relative horn pitches. We then played “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in front of another friend’s house…at around 1am.

    And then we all went home to our supermodel girlfriends and totally got laid… :(

  12. Anna says:

    Your graph seems statistically legitimate. This should be carried around by all good drivers so they can casually slam them on the windscreens of the cars of people who are honking extensively. It’s time to make them pay… with the power of mathematics.

    • Posky says:

      Maybe I should sell these as crudely drawn bumper stickers and change the world. It could be the next “Shit Happens.”

  13. nevernicole says:

    “If I crushed their windpipe, I bet that noise would stop.”

    Yeah, that’s what I think about 57% of the time anyone talks to me.

    Here in the most Southern Parts of Africa I have to say that honking isn’t such a big annoyance. Here, it’s the taxi’s. Not taxi’s like you know them…you know, um, ‘cabs’…noooo, these are mini-buses of Death, Destruction and Mayhem. Like little tin boxes, with 20 too-many people crammed inside weaving in and out of traffic and squeeeeezing into little spaces that they cannot possibly fit into, ignoring every.single.traffic rule ever. I honk at them a lot. a LOT

  14. traciegila says:

    I love the graph!!! Have you been to Indonesia? Honking is a polite and courteous form of communication most of the time. I wrote a piece on honking in Bali a while ago.

  15. susannairn says:

    Honk if you like this post!! This would be one of the rare occasions my hand would meet the middle of my steering wheel. I would honk for your amusing writing and nothing else. Does that make me a hornophobe? Love the blog….you have a new fan. :)

  16. avistyle89 says:

    I totally agree with this. I actually never honk at people unless I absolutely have to and I get so scared and sad when I get honked at! The only exception I make is when I honk and total idiots trying to cut me off. In which case I have thought to myself “hmm I don’t think this is what they made the car horn for…”

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