Let me set the scene for you.
I’m the first one in line at a green light. I’m counting to four after the light turns green because I know that somebody is going to run the red light. I see it happening. (This isn’t hypothetical. It was really happening). Here comes the truck trying to squeeze through at the last second. Behind me, a car starts honking. Because I’m in an SUV and they are in a sedan, I can see things that they can’t. The honk isn’t just one little, “um, hey, the light turned green.” honk. The honk is a long, loud “insert ugly words here” kind of honk. It left me sad and startled.
Have you noticed there’s a lot more honking going on in general? Every day I find myself around the Shea and 92nd intersection and there is always someone honking there.
I was mentioning it to my husband and he made a great point. When we honk all the time, we get used to hearing it. It becomes just more noise happening around us. We start to tune it out with all the other noise. What happens when we really see something wrong? What happens when we really do need to let someone know to watch out?
We have so much noise in our lives already. Isn’t this one time we can choose to relax a little?
Would you believe that this concern with honking has been around for almost 100 years? This was found in a 1912 letter to the Times: “Drivers have escaped punishment because they hooted loudly just before killing an aged and deaf colonel, or an elderly woman, deaf, and blind of one eye, or capsizing another car and injuring three or four persons … Ordinary care and precaution would have prevented each of such accidents. Hooting, however, is counted a sufficient set-off against the lack of such care and precaution.”
In 1935, New York Mayor kicked off a nighttime honking ban in which he praised the English anti-horn effort: “The results have been so good that there is no demand from any quarter for their return. Automobile accidents, fatalities, and injuries have been reduced to an appreciable extent merely because the campaign against horns there has caused drivers to drive more carefully.” He cited that deaths were down 17 percent and injuries 7 percent since the ban had been implemented.
The horn is kind of like the “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” of the driving world.
So, can I challenge you? Next time you feel the urge to honk just out of frustration or impatience, just take a deep breath and say, “I hope that person has an awesome day today.”