Monday, July 26, 2010

The Horn

How do you feel about horns? Car horns. When people honk their horns. Are you a horn honker?

I don't like it when horns are honked, and I don't use mine.

It really stresses me out when I am driving and I hear a honked horn. I immediately tense up wondering, "am I being honked at?" "am I doing something wrong?" "am I about to hit someone?" "is someone about to hit me?" "what is going on?!" "why would someone honk a horn!!!" I really hate the sound. I think it is really distracting, and I think it is kind of rude.

I am willing to be educated on the purposes and reasons behind horn honking, so if you know of any, please share in the comments.

I will share my thoughts on the horn.

To me the only purpose of the horn is to show indignation, or similar feelings.

The other day, I pulled out of my street onto a busier street. I should have had plenty of time, but sadly it was raining and I had old tires (I got new ones last week!), and I skidded on the wet pavement, so the oncoming traffic was closer than I would have desired. The woman coming up behind on the busier street honked at me very loudly. That did not help the stressful situation I was already in. Then at the next light, as I sat in the left turn lane, she honked at me again and glared at me as she drove by. I think her purpose in honking was to show her indignation at my poor decision making. I think she should have been watching the road, because it was raining after all.

The other day I was driving in an intersection where I my street did not have a stop sign, but the other did. A man pulled right in front of me. I assume he thought it was a 4-way stop. I did not honk. I slammed on my brakes.

The other day I was driving through an intersection and had a green light. A man turned onto the street right in front of me. I did not honk. I slowed down.

I think that the horn has somehow replaced braking.

I am trying to think of situations where a horn could be used. A child runs into the street and doesn't see you. Honk? No. I think you should brake.

Someone pulls in front of you? Honk? No. I think you should brake.

What purpose does honking serve? For drivers like me (even if we're not being honked at), it stresses us out. The only purpose of honking is to show how upset you are. It is for your benefit, not for the other driver's. If the driver you are honking at honestly did not know that he was being a poor driver, then your honk probably won't help. He will continue to be oblivious. And if the driver did know that she was being a poor driver, then your honk still won't help, because she doesn't care. So honking serves no purpose except for you to vent your feelings of I-can't-believe-that-driver-would-do-that.

I did see a good reason to honk yesterday. We drove down the street on the way to my in-laws' house, and there was a sign saying someone was celebrating his 100th birthday and to honk to join in the celebration. That is a good reason to honk. Honk for joy—not anger.

Anyway, let me know if you feel you are justified in your honking, because I wouldn't mind changing my opinion. But I don't think you will turn me into a honker. It just seems so rude to honk. It's like yelling. The person already probably knows he cut you off. Honking only escalates the matter.


  1. I think the only time using the horn is really useful ("useful" meaning to fulfill a purpose other than to express irritation) is if you're sitting at a light (especially if you're in the left-turn lane) and the light turns green, but the person in front of you doesn't notice (especially, again, if it's a turning signal, which doesn't last forever or even for very long, usually). And if you honk, it should be a really short, I'm-only-trying-to-get-your-attention honk.

    Sometimes honking is useful if someone's not paying attention and going to hit you, but I'm like you and default to brakes. It never occurs to me to honk unless it's the waiting-at-the-light scenario.

  2. I try not to honk when I am mad. But I do use my horn if I am say driving on the interstate and someone tries to come into my lane (right where I am) and doesn't see me. A little honk would let them know I was there so I wouldn't have to brake and risk getting rear-ended. I think horns are good for those types of reasons. But I do not think they should be used out of anger. Most people honk that way. After something has happened/being cut off or whatnot. The honk usually happens after the incident, not during/before.

  3. I think the only time I have ever honked I was running late to get somewhere, and someone was just sitting through a green light and I began to be afraid we'd miss the whole thing and have to sit through the red again. By the time I got up the courage to hit the horn it was yellow, he squealed through, and I had to sit through it again... but I did give a tiny beep that time.

    Ok, I should say that's the only time I have ever honked at someone I don't know. I will admit that when Devin and I are both driving somewhere at the same time but going different places when we split away at some point I give a little beep beep to say "see ya later!" - but as you said, that's not an angry honk.

    AND as for my other honk, I was not angry, and I didn't lean on my horn and give a loud obnoxious one, it was more like a shoulder nudge, "hey buddy, could we get going here please?" At least, that's how I hope he interpreted it, because I like you do not love being honked at myself... and I have failed to pay attention at a few lights myself also.

  4. I like to honk if someone almost hits me, when we are driving down the highway, and they zoom between the car just ahead of me in the lane next to me and my front bumper.

    Because I have a one year old in the car, and I think they should know they just endangered her.

  5. I agree with your thoughts for the most part, as most of the time it's too late to affect the situation by honking. The two exceptions in my book are if a car is sitting at a green light (especially if it's a left turn arrow) but even then you have to wait a few seconds or it's just rude. The other time is if a car starts to change lanes and you're in their blind spot--they really don't see you but a honked horn makes them look to see what's going on. Honking has DEFINITELY saved me from being sideswiped on the freeway a few times!

  6. For green lights and blind spots I use a short honk to let people know that I'm trust trying to help. But, I do tend to honk in other situations -as well as use my brakes!!!- because sometimes "jerks" don't know they are being jerks, and I think if they are informed (through a honk) they will learn to be a more cautious driver...unless they just don't care, of course. I do understand that honking can cause more stress, but I think it could also help enhance the awareness of other vehicles.

  7. I agree with some of these other comments. The only time I honk is if someone is not paying attention and the light is green or if I'm on the interstate and someone is trying to merge into my lane and cannot see me.
    I admit, I am an impatient driver and tend to have a bit of road rage. If I have been surrounded by people not paying attention to the light, I'm more likely to honk generously. I try to keep it under control but there is only so much I can handle.
    I never honk at someone who makes a mistake that isn't harming anyone.

  8. wow 7 comments already- apparently people have strong feelings about honking!
    hey my hubby knows that guy who turned 100!- they used to rent the house next door to them when he was little so him and his fam were talking about it on sunday after church- lol
    anyways mimi you are a very understanding person- you try to put yourself in their shoes and figure out why they honked. good for you.
    a few months ago i was driving past kroger and someone pulled out of the mall parking lot in front of me and i was within inches of rear ending him. so what did i do? lay on the horn of course. wel then the driver turned around and waved and mouthed "sorry" and i felt really bad.

  9. oops just proofreading my comment- after i published it of course- i didn't mean to say you try to understand why they honk- i meant to say you understand why they cut you off! lol


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