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‘Horn Mar’ (Blow horn) shouted my dad from the passenger seat as I drove past another slow car. I obliged, as honking on unknown vehicles was more peaceful than getting into an argument with my father. I have been driving since I was 18, which is also the minimum eligible age for driving in India. 9 years of driving in and outside India has taught me one important lesson, ‘Watch for others’. No matter how careful you are while driving, there is going to be that one rookie who will collide with your vehicle and cause a lot of damage. Despite being always afraid, I love driving in India, it’s challenging. We Indians drive like every single inch of the road and the land next to it is also a property of the drivers and it can be used as one pleases. Hence, we do not follow lane discipline, we do not give right of way to pedestrians, we sometimes do not wait for the light to turn green, and we pretty much always keep honking.
‘Horn Mar’, he shouted again as we reached one of the crossroads and this time once again I obliged. According to my father, the people of India are used to being warned of an oncoming vehicle by honking. Hence, at a crossroad even though I have the right of way, I need to honk to warn the vehicles coming from left or right about my presence so they can stop and let me go. News flash – They still don’t make way for you. Every single driver is going to try to squeeze their vehicle into the available gap to get ahead. You end up honking to show your anger at this unwelcome advance, they honk back to show their anger to your unwillingness to allow them pass, ultimately whoever is able to squeeze their vehicle in further gets to go first. Sometimes, these situations turn into ugly fights, but it was generally the case back in the day when people used to have time. I never really understood the fascination with honking so much. It is only adding to the noise pollution from the already noisy environment and causing a stressful situation for all parties involved.
I can understand the part where we honk in order to warn the traffic from either sides, and we also honk when we are overtaking another vehicle to warn them, but there are other situations where I see people blowing horn as well, which I do not have an answer to. They are either unexplainable or downright stupid. Here are some such cases:
- Honking when you drive by a place of worship like temples, churches, mosques, etc. I have no idea why this is a norm.
- Honking as soon as the light turns Green. Do the people in the back think the ones in front of them didn’t notice the light turned green?
- Honking at people who are crossing the road to make them cross faster. This is ridiculously inhuman. Just because you want to drive past the pedestrian-crossing sooner doesn’t mean they have to walk faster. Pedestrians have the right of way anywhere in the world, and the next time someone honks at me when I am crossing the road, I will show them a finger.
- Honking just because you have a fancy horn. Yes, that is a thing. We have multiple horn types in India. They range from mildly annoying to super annoying. They can have tunes from popular songs, or just random sounds put together from a child’s toy.
Quoting an article I read on Forbes “Honking gives every driver the belief that somehow they will mitigate the risk of a collision“, it also reminded me of the signs on our trucks ‘Horn OK Please’/’Blow horn’. All the trucks carry this sign and urge the drivers behind them to blow horns when they want to overtake, as I said earlier it’s a warning in true sense. Maharashtra Government did realise that this practice needed to be discouraged and hence issued a circular almost a year ago on May 1st, 2015 to ban these signs on the trucks. I am not the only one who is questioning the unnecessary honking, there have been diktats in several states from time to time in order to reduce the noise pollution being caused by honking. For instance, in 2012 this article suggests that Karnataka Government asked the car drivers to go easy on honking. On top of all these, institutions like schools, colleges and hospitals are horn free zones.
In my personal opinion, honking is just a ridiculous concept in the modern times when people have safety features in their vehicles like ‘Collision sensors’, ‘Cameras on the license plates’, ‘Disc brakes’ and something as simple as ‘Rear view mirrors’. Blowing horns should be restricted to only warning someone if and only if they are doing something that could hurt them or others. It will probably take ages to eradicate the practice. India as a whole is a place of ‘Purposeful Chaos’ and it’s going to be this way possibly till time immemorial. I just don’t want my dad shouting ‘Horn mar‘ any more. It truly is annoying.
What part of honking annoys you? Do you agree with my beliefs? Do you have suggestions? Leave your comments below.
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