Just curious #6 – horning at traffic lights

Silkboard has agreed to let me blog on his site instead of creating another blog. So here goes…

Any good ideas on why people horn as soon as the light turns green at traffic lights?

  • Can I climb over the car/bus/bike/auto in front of me if you do that?
  • Do you think I love to linger at traffic lights and take in the sights?
  • Do you think I need a reminder on traffic light logic – stop says the red light…?

I have been to quite a few cities outside India. No, these have pretty much the same per-capita GDP as Bangalore. Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Siem Reap, Guangzhou. No one loves the sound of their car horns as much as we do.

Love to read some responses.



16 Responses

  1. Yajamans,
    Fair question to be asked having travelled around bangalore roads, the traffic rules have to be redefined as, if its red pass through fast, if amber little slower and if green aaramse drive… and still we are not used to red as a stop signal.

    and you may find some answers to you questions from vijay’s blog on this post.

  2. Srivathsa, check out this link too..

    and its a fair question to ask..!

  3. Alright, so you are on Srivathsa!

    I have had my standard probing conversations with some compulsive honkers, and I realized they don’t think there is anything wrong with it. They have their own definitions of what excessive honking would be. One Sumo fellow said he has seen private vehicle owners sit on the horn for 2 minutes non stop. I said must be because you annoyed him a lot. From then on the discussion just went south :)

    With poor management of traffic, you do need honking at times. So it is “accepted” to be normal. Now, how much is excessive and how much okay is naturally left to personal interpretations.

    BTW, many driving schools (aka RTO middlemen) teach drivers to sound horn when crossing intersections! Its like the horn is the replacement for west’s stop signs :)

  4. Well, first of all the different sounds (aka horns)

    First the big ones – the air horns – courtesy Buses and Trucks – These are to scare the S#$* out of you and let you know who the BOSS of the road is – Comes in various (defeaning) tones and rings – but the response is the same – scamper out of the way – and allow HRH to rule the roads.

    Second is the dual tone (Fitted on most cars and some bikes) – one is the ‘more’ pleasant trumpet horn & the other sharp twang – to remind you that i am a ‘sort of’ biggie’ – a important guy on the road – and i need my part of the road (you be damned) — This one is on most sumo’s & qualis and are meant to be obeyed.

    Third is the two wheeler horn – meant to irritate and comes across as a ‘get out of the way you old hag’ sort. This could be a ‘off key’ horn (needs a garage visit) – waxing and waning based on the guy/gal revving the accelerator.

    Finally, some buses/trucks ( & a few autos) with the old horn ( press and make the ‘pom,pom’ sound ) – apparently some zealous KSRTC/BMTC depot head decided to bring in these to reduce the noise on the road – well, bless him – i look forward to these ‘angels’ (as far as the ‘noise’ is concerned).

    I sure look forward to more (fellow commuters) adding to this cacophony …..

  5. I am referring only to the honking that happens as soon as the light turns green. Not the other ones that happen at intersections, etc. I wish we used brakes more than the horns.

    Believe it or not, when I drive in Bangalore, I almost never use the horn. And never never at a traffic light or at a stalled vehicle or one that is trying to park.

  6. A friend of mine from the UK once joked that in India we have horns attached to the accelarator…

  7. Silkboard,
    A very pet topic of yours i guess..but…
    a) You can drive a vehicle without brakes but not without horns!!
    b) Most people dont follow traffic rules and the ones behing honk to show off that the other guys are wrong
    c) Most thinking honking gets them out of thier way fast which is wrong
    d) Driving schools are also the culprits. They ask people to honk and proceed. No wonder there are collisions even with rails!!!


  8. sound warning: nostalgia

    13B CBS-CBS was the coolest bus in Mys when I was a kid. For one, it was a leyland bus with the cool black grill and was almost always was shining. But the real reason was it was driven by the awesome Singh uncle. He was very cool, he was fast & had a distinct horn. irrespective of traffic conditions, on bogadhi road he would sound off his trade mark pap-pap-papap-pap just after he sped past the bridge.

    So why am I writing all this? Well, we were so impressed by him & 13B that if we were going anywhere (mane hatra) we were running.
    (gump had nothing on us.) whenever we were sent off to get some stuff, or to check if ‘sakkare bandidya’ or if were going to the library we were running pretending to be 13B. all this running around created a lot of ‘traffic’ and we used cross each other quite often. so we developed horn patterns to acknowledge each other. hapless uncles & aunties would be startled by our pap paps. this continued for a while till somebody tipped off my ajji …

  9. Tarle,

    When I was a kid, we used to have these awesome Tatra trucks roar past my house. They were built by BEML in collaboration with Tatra of (then) Czechoslovakia.

    They packed 360 bhp. Had tyres that would refill automatically in case pressure went too low. Left hand drive. Massive wheels and tyres with huge camber. A real sight to behold. Oh – and they had these awesome air horns that used to blow us away. Buses and Tata/Leyland trucks used to just move onto the side of the roads when a convoy of these used to pass by. we used to feel happy that the usual bullies had got their just deserts.

  10. Lest you think that I am ranting on the “state of things”, i must concede one thing.

    I have observed over the past couple of years that when the light is red itself, very few people honk. I was in this mega jam on the BTM road, and there was almost no one honking. I guess people have reconciled to some things :) Same story on Airport road.


  11. i have seen many bumper stickers in the usa that go ‘honk if you …’ – i guess people who buy them should be repatriated to india – they will soon find the stickers redundant.

    that gives me an idea – how about a bumper sticker (just for indian conditions) that says – ‘honk if you want to break the traffic law’ or something similar?

    – s.b.

  12. I dont understand why we dont focus on the root cause of all these issues. The root cause is that our politicians/town planners/tranport officials have not done their jobs well. Why are we comparing India with India? And where does GDP comparison come in? Why not just focus on why people honk? Forget fools who are impatient but even if you think about WHY these people have become impatient then its because of the same reasons. NO URBAN PLANNING. NO TRANSPORT MANAGEMENT. STUPID LICENSING SYSTEM.


  13. Much of the world wide web is full of sarcasm & mocking of driving on Indian roads. This site http://driving-india.blogspot.com/ has been created with the purpose of providing driver education and training rather than criticism.

    At present 17 driver education videos aimed at changing the driving culture on Indian roads are available. To watch the videos, please visit: http://driving-india.blogspot.com/

    The videos cover the following topics:

    Video 1: Covers the concept of Blind spots
    Video 2: Introduces the principle of Mirrors, Signal and Manoeuvre
    Video 3: At red lights, stop behind the stop line
    Video 4: At red lights there are no free left turns
    Video 5: The Zebra belongs to pedestrians
    Video 6: Tyres and Tarmac (rather than bumper to bumper)
    Video 7: Merging with the Main road
    Video 8: Leaving The Main Road
    Video 9: Never Cut Corners
    Video 10: Show Courtesy on roads
    Video 11: 5 Rules that help deal with Roundabouts
    Video 12: Speed limits, stopping distances, tailgating & 2 seconds rule
    Video 13: Lane discipline and overtaking
    Video 14: Low beam or high beam?
    Video 15: Parallel (reverse parking) made easy
    Video 16: Give the cyclist the respect of a car
    Video 17: Dealing with in-car condensation

    Many thanks,

    Dr Adhiraj Joglekar (UK)

  14. Dear all,
    Glad to know that this discussion on the menace of noise pollution is already underway. I have started a campaign in Pune to fight noise pollution and the ‘excessive honking’ in particular. Our motto is Horn NOT OK Please.

    Have a look at this blog: quietindia.blogspot.com
    Please send me emails with regard to your suggestions and how we can make a difference.


  15. What about the souls in whose vehic;le the horn is not functioning. I have found them to be the most intimidating with their bumper scraping your back and the driver angrily pressing on the accelerator while on a brake to raise the noise of the engine. I have found that to be quite scary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: