Mindless honking has been so ingrained in our minds that we have grown accustomed to this dangerous activity. We’ve come to accept it as the new normal. The negative implications of unnecessary honking have been thoroughly explored and documented. It is a type of air pollution, and it is also known to cause health concerns such as hearing, anxiety, and hypertension. Honking is also frequently associated with episodes of road rage.
A driver who honks suffers the most because he is closest to the source of noise pollution. The passengers in the vehicle, as well as those in close proximity to the honking vehicle, are the next to be impacted. We put ourselves in danger by honking without even realizing it. When overtaking, when the person in front slows down, or when approaching an intersection or turn, most drivers invariably honk their horns. Drivers waiting at the back of a signalized traffic junction honk the loudest when the signal changes from red to green, as if everyone in front of them is sleeping.
The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, declare that no honking is permitted in silent zones or at night in residential areas unless there is a public emergency. The guidelines specify a “quiet zone” as an area within 100 meters of any hospitals, educational institutions, courts, religious places, or other areas designated as such by the competent authority. The unnecessary use of horns is prohibited by Rule 23 of the Motor Vehicles (Driving) Regulations, 2017. It further states that the horn should be sounded only when a driver perceives a danger to himself or another road user. The penalties for violating these laws are set out in Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and Section 190 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, and vary from a fine of Rs 1000 to imprisonment for up to five years. Honking is a sign of a nervous and irritable motorist behind the wheel, who poses a risk to himself and others. As a result, a driver who avoids honking consciously drives more cautiously. The sooner we stop mindless honking, the better. It must be recognized that driving without honking is possible, especially in a planned city like Chandigarh.
The point is that it is entirely possible to drive without excessive honking. All it takes is a little compassion, forgiveness, and patience for our fellow road users. It’s tremendously empowering and liberating to not honk when you have the option there in front of you. On our country’s roadways, however, this is rarely the case. Indian drivers have no qualms about intimidating pedestrians and cyclists by tooting their horns, preventing them from crossing in front of their vehicles, which is a complete violation of the law. Drivers regularly use honking as an alternative to slamming the brakes; whenever they should apply brakes, they conveniently honk without realizing how completely uncivil that is.
A driver’s character is similarly measured by how he treats vulnerable road users — pedestrians and cyclists, who have the right of way when crossing roads. This is possibly the most significant piece of road etiquette.