Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Honking menace

Lakshmi’s article on honking highlighted rightly the menace suffered by all in silence amidst the noise of horns. The volume of automobiles has grown phenomenally even as road space has shrunk leading to traffic jams at every turn or signal. We have no immediate solution for this problem. Building over- bridges and subways to overcome the burgeoning traffic adds to the misery even more. To make matters worse the unacceptable social behavior of the motorists goes unregulated. While their impatience at the delays is understandable, their irrational behavior of pressing the horn when the signal changes to green urging the cars before them to move forward quickly takes them nowhere. Blowing the horn in a traffic hold up is just a ridiculous reaction to the frustration of being delayed adding only to the confusion and frayed tempers. It solves nothing. The policemen also can do little amidst the cacophony.
Using horns in emergencies to warn a moving car that is coming closer or an unwary pedestrian on the way of approaching car is understandable and justified. But what do you say of people who come to pick friends making long honks in the early hours of the mornings and late in the nights unmindful of the sleeping neighbours. I have a neighbor who repeatedly presses his shrill horn for someone to open the gate of his house. He would not get down and open the gate himself however long the inmates of his house take to come out. There is another guy who is affectionate to his wife and a nuisance to his neighbours as he blows the horn repeatedly even a furlong away as he returns home to announce his arrival to his wife.
I have tried asking my neighbours in the colony very pleasantly to stop honking within the complex only to be rebuffed with more honking. You cannot approach the police if you wish to live with others in peace and police too brush aside such complaints as unimportant. I live in a colony where there are about sixty cars and not infrequently the horn of one car or the other starts blowing nonstop on its own with the owner not knowing how to stop it promptly. The ear splitting shrill noise at high decibel continues for five minutes or more till it is silenced. Most people are fed up when it happens to someone else’s car. I found that I am not in a minority as many to whom I speak to are also fed up with the noise and honking .
In US honking is considered as shouting or showing your annoyance. Motorists rarely use the horn. But then they have multi lane roads and highways though traffic jams are not infrequent. The automobile users are patient and strictly abide by the rules of the road with a high civic sense. They are spared of the erratic autos (three wheelers) that abound in our roads.
The police should run regular campaigns in every city that honking of cars is not permissible save in emergencies. The motorists should learn to drive without use of horn as in other countries. Driving two wheelers with silencers removed should be punishable. Honking in housing colonies or residential areas is a strictly forbidden thing. The police should have the power to fine errant drivers or tow the vehicles that use horn indiscriminately even without a complaint from other users of the road. No one has the right to invade into the right of other citizens to live in noise-free and peaceful atmosphere.
But honking is not without its use in rare cases as in the case of a friend who lost his dog and went round searching in the neighbourhood sounding the horn for the dog to show up. It was a smart move that paid off immediately. a

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