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Friday, September 13, 2002
 
Horny

Today, I've been forced back into the car (more servant trouble, The Lady is away with Hector, my worthy steed, and hers (Scylla) has a damaged wintling). As I moved slowly away from traffic lights, the driver of the vehicle behind hooted at me. I can think of no reason why he should have done this, apart from the need to cause irritation to other road users. This event made me think, once again, about the problem of car horns.

For many years, use of the horn has been banned in built-up areas at night. We followed France in this respect, where Parisian hooter noise made the place unbearable. When France issued a total ban (I think) on the use of horns in town, I remember seeing a Punch cartoon in which a motorist, passing a 'No hooting' signal, was leaning out of the window to warn a pedestrian; he (the motorist) was playing the violin.

I have just looked up The Highway Code to see what current rules relate to horn use. Here they are:
The horn. Use only while your vehicle is moving and you need to warn other road users of your presence. Never sound your horn aggressively. You MUST NOT use your horn
while stationary on the road
when driving in a built up area between the hours of 11.30 pm and 7.00 am
except when another vehicle poses a danger.
My experience this morning made me think about other, hitherto unpublished, imaginative uses of the horn. Here are a few:
Hello, Pete! Here I am, driving past you and you haven't seen me yet.
I didn't like the way you got ahead of me, there.
Oops! My hand slipped; I was trying to indicate.
You should have given way to me there and offered me the contents of your wallet.
You are going much too slowly through this dangerously congested built-up area.
Stop trying to park your car on my front bumper while I am driving behind you at 70 m.p.h.
Before any well-intentioned Minister of Transport decides to incorporate these uses, he should tell road users:
If you've got time to use your horn, you've got time to avoid an accident
and consider carefully legislation to prevent the manufacture of cars with horns, altogether. How much more tranquil (and musical) the World would be if we were obliged to warn of our approach with a violin.



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