Honking is generally frowned upon. There is no paucity of idiots on the street trying to outdo each other by honking away to glory but the car’s horn is there for a reason. It’s a vital part of safety equipment, which actually helps to prevent many potential accidents. If used in the right situation, the humble horn can prove to be the difference between life and death. To put it straight, honking can save your life, and here’s how. Horn Ok, Please.
First let’s classify the honks that we hear around us in categories, good, polite and downright stupid. Kicking things off with the stupid part of honking, being inconsiderate is one of the things that put people totally off honking.
For instance, passing a place of worship, or a school or hospital calls for restraint while your exercising your palms. Honking unnecessarily at such places is downright stupid. You have to be conscious of where you are, and this is the essence of driving safely. Observe, as most no honking zones have a signboard saying so.
Secondly, some people start honking when they’re at a traffic signal, as though doing so would get the signal to suddenly change to green. Also, some motorists honk at pedestrians, just to unnerve or hustle them into getting out of the way. These honks are downright stupid.
You see traffic pile up ahead of you and are tired after a long day of work. Stopping behind the traffic and letting the pile up ease out is the logical thing to do. The stupid thing? Screeching to a halt behind the last car in the jam and going hammer and tongs on your horn will only earn you the ire of fellow motorists. Just don’t do it.
Now, let’s move to polite honking, which essentially is honking to ask fellow road users to pay attention. Here are a few typical situations.
1. You’re behind a cyclist on a narrow road doing a steady speed. Usually, a cyclist will be much slower than you and passing a cyclist at a high speed can lead her/him to lose control due to the draft that your car generates at speed. Therefore, one or two gentle and quick beeps, just to warn the cyclist that you’re about to pass is something that will keep the cyclist from accidentally swerving onto your path, and also more in control over the handlebars.
2. A pedestrian is crossing the road busy talking on her/his phone, or perhaps absentmindedly checking only one side of the road before crossing. In such circumstances, a quick dab of the horn can bring bring back the pedestrian out of her/his reverie.
3. A similar situation pans out at the stop light, when folks who are in the first row may miss the signal turning green. worse still, some could be busy on their cellphones and in case of the fairer sex, with their make up. A gently honk to remind them that the light has turned green and that its time to go is definitely one of the more polite honks.
It’s true that the car horn was designed to be used for emergencies, essentially to call attention to yourself, somewhat like yelling “look at me”. However, times have changed and the era of the car being sparse on streets is now passe. With cars and two wheelers jostling for space, the horn’s utility has actually grown over the years. Here are a couple of situations that we’d classify as good for honking.
1. You’re approaching a curve and slowing down is the logical thing to do. But crawling to a halt is something that most of us are unwilling to do. Hence, a sharp jab or two on the horn will be be sufficient to warn the oncoming motorist, and make her/him slow down to a safe speed. At night, honking followed by flashing headlamps while approaching the curve would be more appropriate.
2. You’re at a stop light and there’s slight incline in front of you. The driver of the car ahead absentmindedly releases the parking brake and her/his car starts rolling towards your ride. Honk by all means, as not doing so will only leave you with a fender bender, or even worse if a heavier vehicle is the offender.
3. You are about to overtake a truck in daytime. The truck driver typically sits high and low slung cars such as the Maruti 800/Zen and the Esteem can potentially go unnoticed by the driver unless he’s checking his mirrors constantly. So, before passing the truck during your overtaking maneuver, it is a very good practice to honk once mildly to let the trucker know that you’re about to pass. And when you pull alongside the truck while executing the overtaking maneuver, another mild and quick honk will serve as the second signal for the driver. At night, the couple of flashes of the high beam serves as an alert mechanism for the vehicle ahead. Yet, a couple of mild honks are safe bets.
4. You’re in an emergency situation where a driver ahead of you suddenly slows down and pulls right or left without warning. You’re well within your right to go all horns blazing. It is important that the driver ahead be made to understand that she or he just executed a dangerous maneuver, and a horn to indicate that is where the education must stop. Also, by honking you also tell the other road users that a potentially dangerous situation is unfolding in front of you.