Is honking your car horn a bad thing? Not necessarily. We all know that honking horns add to noise pollution and causes blood pressure to rise. It’s a habitual way for drivers to vent their anger, frustration and impatience. However, honking doesn’t necessarily have the same meanings around the globe. Tooting a horn is not always about discontent, it is seen as a friendly gesture too.
Honking in places around the world
China’s densely populated cities endure unbearable traffic congestion and bring about a chaotic nature of driving. Drivers are in a hurry to get somewhere. Honking is used to ask a driver ahead to move over, drive faster, or just warn a vehicle they’re passing. Vehicles will also honk at pedestrians to warn them of an approaching vehicle. This creates a lot of noise pollution.
In an effort to reduce honking noise, some cities in China have installed acoustic cameras to identify honking cars. The cameras use an HD image and microphones to capture on video the license plate of each honking car. The police analyze the footage to determine if the car’s honking is warranted and a fine will be issued. If you’re not sure, it’s better to lay off the horn in a city such as Beijing or you could be fined.
Honking is part of the culture and road etiquette in India. Drivers use their horn to communicate to other drivers as they pass by in the narrow lanes. With thousands of vehicles wandering and crossing from every direction the horn isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. It’s considered a good road-side manner too; unlike here in North America.
Thailand’s streets are flooded with vehicles and tuk-tuks (rickshaws). If you hear short, lively, friendly “beep, beeps”, typically it’s a driver thank you. It’s considered rude to heavily honk your horn unless it is absolutely necessary. If you do hear someone laying on the horn, it’s a very good chance it’s a foreigner.
Blowing your horn will you $$
Blowing your horn in anger or annoyance in England, Scotland and Wales can cost you. They’ve implemented a no honking rule. Dare to honk between the hours of 11:30 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and you could be fined. Drivers are to only use their horns when their car is moving and they need to warn other road users of their presence, so no parking out front of a house honking for the person to come out.
In urban Germany, you cannot honk your horn except when necessary to avoid a collision and you’ll pay a hefty fine and could face possible jail time in Texas for blowing your horn in a non-emergency.
When’s the last time you honked your horn?
Most North Americans are pretty conservative when it comes to honking horns. If you do hear a honk, it’s usually not for a friendly reason. A long honk is typically associated with impending road rage such as getting cut off or driver impatience. A short “beep-beep” can be a polite reminder to get moving. Generally, we consider it rude to honk other than in an emergency situation.
Depending on where you are, the car horn can be used as an expletive or gesture of friendliness. If you plan on driving on your international travels, make sure to brush up on the etiquette of horn blowing at your destination. Don’t panic if you’re honked at and don’t be afraid to use your own horn.
And just one more thing. This needs to be outlawed .. honking in radio commercials. Have you ever heard a honking sound in a radio commercial right when you’re changing lanes only to swerve back? What about hearing the commercial at a road ramp, or while slowing down to park, or waiting for the traffic lights to change. It can startle the h#!! out of you causing you to take sudden action.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our previous blog Top 10 International Driving Habits for more driving tips around the world. Continue to read more of our blogs on our website. You can also sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram .