‘Why do people honk so much?’ This is a question that often comes to our mind when we recollect being caught in traffic and drivers or riders are continuously hitting the horn either for ‘self-defence’ – to make sure a motorist doesn’t ram into his vehicle or in a bid to scare the man ahead of them to make way. To know the exact reasons NT BUZZ spoke to a few people to find out more about such behavioural patterns
Venita Gomes | NT BUZZ
While this topic or issue might tickle your funny bone, on a serious note – honking, hooting and being obsessed with the horn is not an issue restricted to sound pollution but goes beyond. In Goa wherever you go, whatever time of the day, if the street is empty or there’s heavy traffic – it is impossible to not hear the hooting sound of a horn on the road. For some it’s no less than an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) where they can’t do without using the horn. And if that wasn’t enough you can often come across people who play music with their horns, out of rage, irritation or simply because it sounds so good to their ears. Of course it makes one alert and vigilant, but it does much more harm by creating a nuisance.
The ‘Hello’ syndrome
We are pretty sure you must have observed honking patterns among people. Funny and unusual, these ways are quite common in Goa. While there are several countries where people ride and drive in such an orderly manner where there is a meagre chance of hearing the sound of the horn, here horns are sounded for any and every reason (read: excuse). It’s quite common to come across someone known who honks to say hello, or ‘what’s up’ on the road. And if you know the person way to well, there are high chances of the honk being loud and prolonged. How many times have you been in this situation, either the one honking or being ‘greeted’ by known people? While the person being honked at smiles or gestures back similarly (using the horn), it draws the attention of other commuters and more often distracts them too.
“While on road I have seen many riders hello the other riders. Sometimes it is a very serious issue because when a rider suddenly hears the sound of the horn, he not only gets scared but also distracted which can lead to an accident. Also, there are times when people keep using the horn for long until everyone sees what’s the matter with him,” says Verna-based Nigel Vaz.
We are proud Goans, and this fact can be validated on roads too. The moment we find a vehicle registered outside Goa or the rent-a-bike that have tourists navigating themselves with GPS on their phones, who don’t drive as per our standards, not only do we swear and hurl abuses, but make it a point to intimate the traffic police and honk all the way through until they make way, stop at the side or say sorry (even if it’s not their fault). And to top it all we have several reasons to justify this behaviour. “While driving I have come across domestic tourist who stop in the middle of the road and ask for directions. First, they don’t see where they are stopping and second, they are so lost. I understand they are new to the place but what the point in riding fast is and suddenly slow down when you are lost, that makes no sense to me and I am one of those who keeps alerting them by honking,” says Shaeen Dias from Mapusa.
This one’s for the dudes who zoom on their motorbikes and cars. Many girls would have at some point faced this menace of boys showing off on bikes trying to impress them. The stunt that involves them zooming on the bike is often clubbed with them pressing the horn to attract the girl’s attention, in hope of creating an impression. While for the boys it is synonymous with fun, it is an irritation for most young women.
To honk or not to honk
Margao-based, Harsh Kamat feels that if traffic rules, signals, indicators, etc are followed then there is no reason to honk. But the problem is that not everyone follows traffic rules. “Honking is basically for emergencies. It generally occurs due to lack of patience or lack of trust in the other drivers. If we build our patience and also trust other drivers as they’re also the stakeholders of the ‘road’, we could probably reduce the rate of honking to quite an extent,” says Kamat.
He also further adds that if someone halts for a few seconds extra in order to give way to a person crossing the road they tend to scream at them through honking.
Also, traffic jams have now become common infuriating sights, wherein people tend to lose their peace of mind because there is a huge line of vehicles. To top that there are few riders/drivers who incessantly horn until they get their way while moving in traffic – either to overtake or get someone to move out of their way.
It is the people living in residential areas near the road or highway that are a major target of sound pollution caused by honking. Explaining the same, Nuvem-based Ageema Gomes shows her animosity towards unnecessary honking and says: “Even if a car does not start and the vehicle is in the middle of the road instead of helping the person people grumble and honk continuously, making the driver even more nervous. It is as if with the sound, the car will start moving. It not only creates distress but also disturbs the mindset of people who are around the area. Your mood becomes sluggish and weary.”
In order to combat sound pollution all areas comprising not less than 100 meters around hospitals, educational institutions, courts, religious places, wildlife sanctuaries, forest reserves, turtle nesting sites, heritage/archaeological sites of state/national/international importance were identified as silence zones or No Horn Zone by Road Transport Authority, Department of Transport, Government of Goa.
DySP traffic, North, Dharmesh Angle finds unnecessary honking and hooting a menace. “There are people who keeping honking continuously at times without the need of it. If they really need to convey a message then they should do it in a responsible manner. Abusing the honk is not justified and people need to have a sense of responsibility while on road. We have also started taking action against such violators,” he adds.
What a sound?
Cars and bikes come with standardised horn sound yet we find many who change the horns to shrill sounds. These horns hurt the eardrums but are still in huge demand. Apart from cars and bikes, buses have also joined the league with horns that blare out Bollywood numbers. However, in recent times the rules have become strict with action being taken against violators. Student Brulynn Castello finds it annoying to deal with different types of honks especially when caught in traffic. She says: “It’s interesting to hear various kinds of sounds but it’s very annoying. It’s worse when you’re stuck in traffic. It’s like someone’s playing a musical instrument with no rhythm at all.”
We also recognise people based on horns… and what better example than that of our local fish vendor or the baker who comes in the evening.
Maria D’Souza (name changed) from Calangute says: “There are many bakers who come on cycles in our vicinity, but it is because of the peculiar way of
sounding the horn that I know the arrival of the baker I buy bread from. Each one wants to be distinguished and that’s why they probably have unique horns and even unique ways of sounding them.”
Trisha D’Costa (name changed) adds: “When I drive, I make it a point to press the horn in a funny way, which has become a habit. It’s just a candid way of telling my folks I’m back home to make noise and entertain everyone, so get ready!” However she tells us that she doesn’t sound the horn post 10.30 p.m. as there are neighbours who live around her house.
Sometimes people are so lazy that they use the horn to get work done. “One of our neighbours keeps pressing the horn outside his gate every night post 10 p.m. just so that his wife opens the gate for him. Can’t he get down and do it himself?” asks Madhav Parab (name changed) from Amona who believes that the sound is a nuisance and that such laziness shouldn’t be tolerated.
We often witness riders and drivers honking at various religious places like crosses, temples and mosques. Aaron Fernandes (name changed) from Ponda explains why he honks when he passes by religious institutions: “I believe in religion and every time I see a cross I make a point to honk. It’s like I cannot personally go to each and every cross while riding but as a mark respect I honk to show my love to God.”
Genny Cardozo (name changed) from Saligao tells us that she would find it very annoying when her partner, a Hindu would honk at every cross or temple. “I am not religious, and while travelling one doesn’t need to honk at every religious site. Religion and faith is a belief and that shouldn’t be displayed in public when it is not required.”
There are times when people go out of their way to honk – sometimes even when there are prayers being recited at religious places people honk and disturb the ones praying.
Look out! It’s a lady driver
The above phrase is not just gender biased but is also condescending. Let’s face it. Women are often stereotyped as being bad drivers. Is this stereotype relevant in Goa? Assistant manager – Content, IT sector, Lyndon J Pinto justifies why people have a different outlook towards women drivers. He says: “It’s necessary to honk if a driver or rider is in the middle of the road, irrespective of whether it’s a man or woman. But as a road user, I do witness a lot of animosity towards women riders and drivers, which is extremely unfair. While the honking maybe forgiven, what upsets me is the reckless overtaking of a female driver or rider and then slowing down in front of the other cars, as this not just enrages someone but is extremely stupid and risky too. There definitely needs to be a change of mindset not just toward women, but also a change in mindset about road sense.”
Assistant professor at St Xavier’s College, Mapusa, Claudia D’Souza says: “I agree men have the tendency to look down upon women drivers but I as a woman get scared of men drivers too as there are times when they are rash when they drive/ride which poses a threat to my life. Having said that, the minute a lady driver/rider is seen they start honking, please understand your horn itself is annoying let alone women.”
It’s indeed strange that people today are getting obsessed with honking or simply follow the “Horn OK Please” that can be found on four-wheel vehicles or large trucks.