Traffic on the old Southern Expressway, AKA the Galle Road.
Having a horn is like being a person that can only say subtle variations of fuck you. It’s often counterproductive. In studies on western honking, they’ve found that it’s not really a safety mechanism: “About half of emergency honks were meant to chastise and came only after the danger was over. The other half were just preludes to a crash. “It really didn’t serve any purpose at all. It was just, Hey, by the way, I’m going to hit you.” (Slate).” In Sri Lanka I daresay its much the same.
The other day this lorry was behind me in traffic with its hazards on, honking like mad, despite the fact that everyone in front of him was driving normally. My reaction was to actually slow down and somewhat actively obstruct him (bad behavior I know). My reaction upon receiving a honk is, basically, ‘fuck me? fuck you!’ which is retarded, but emotionally coherent.
The same day a Benz in front of me slowed on Hill Street to look around or let someone off, blocking everyone behind them. I honked and honked again until they just stopped entirely, presumably with the same reaction. Though they were being assholes. But I digress.
A Better Horn
Personally, I wish I had two horns. One would be ‘excuse me’ and the other would be ‘fuck you’. You can beep curtly as a sort of polite horn, but it never comes out quite that way. More like ‘f.. f..’ I think the horn is almost useless as a safety mechanism. For going around blind corners perhaps, but only in such rare instances. I also think that there should be a cost assigned to horning, like each too uses a litre of petrol or something. So people don’t lay it on. I think each time a bus horns it should cost them Rs. 500 or something, cause they really lay it on, making certain streets and junctions well nigh uninhabitable.
The Slate article has some interesting ideas as well, include how the Nazi’s put yellow dots on cars that honked too much, or the idea of making the horn into an imposing spike within the car. As for me, I’d settle for just a subtle, ‘excuse me’, or perhaps a more pleasant sound that wouldn’t knee-jerk produce a counter-productive response.