Opinion: Honk if honking is driving you nuts

Honking has become an epidemic on Lower Mainland roads — adding more stress to driving in traffic

I get why every vehicle needs a working horn.

There are times when they come in handy, say for getting a tardy teenager out of the house for a ride to school.

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Honking from the car might not get your youngster to move more quickly, but gosh is it satisfying to lay on the horn while you wait.

And yes, if I’ve fallen asleep and am fading into your lane, please honk, my coffee is not doing enough to keep me awake, obviously.

But other than that, why honk?

I’ve been driving for decades without an accident, yet I seem to hear horns honking all the time, and it’s not just in my head.

Recently, while waiting for a light at the Mary Hill Bypass and Broadway Street in Port Coquitlam, I heard not one but three different honks from three difficult vehicles. I have no idea who they were honking at or why, so as an emergency alert system those honks were ineffective.

Is it me, or are people honking more frequently?

I think pressing the horn is just another example of how we deal with stress in this fast-paced society.

Everyone is horn crazy; you stop at a red light and if you don’t step on the gas quickly enough once the light turns green, you can be sure some joker behind you will honk.

And if it’s not you they’re honking at, it’s someone else, so you have to look to see what the problem is, a form of distracted driving that could even cause an accident.

The other day, I heard a honk, assumed I was not moving quick enough for the driver behind me, and sped up towards a yellow light that was about to turn red.

Perhaps, that honk was not for me, and if that was the case, the driver should have known that as a method of communication, honking the horn has limited affect.

Yet the honking continues, in a single drive home I might hear a couple of horn honks, mostly at intersections. 

What a pain.

Those Hilary and Hank Honkers don’t seem to realize that honking at people to get out of the way or to chastise someone for cutting in is not going to make anyone drive more safely.

What’s more, if they are trying to prevent an accident, they should understand that with the the speeds most people are travelling that helpful horn honk is not likely to stop a crash because of the lag times between the honk, and the other driver’s reaction.

Still, the Motor Vehicle Act has determined that it’s an essential piece of equipment, and every motor vehicle is required to have one that is audible at a distance of 60 m, but not so loud as to deafen with a harsh sound or whistle.

Horns also must not produce a musical or any other weird sound that wouldn’t easily be recognized as a warning device.

Yes, I get it.

Horns are required for safety reasons.

The thing is, most of the time it’s used to indicate irritation, and, with so many people honking these days, that cacophony only adds to driver fatigue, stress, anger and frustration.

So next time you feel like honking, ask yourself if it’s really necessary, if your message will get through to the driver and if it will make a difference to your safe ride home.

If not, take deep breath and let it go.

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