honking etiquette

I just got honked at! [1]
honking is for losers
I think I have a bit of a complex when it comes to honking, both as the honkee and honker. Honking is always surpring and abrasive and way too loud. It’s like if you could only blog IN ALL CAPS AND THEN THE ONLY WORD YOU COULD BLOG WOULD BE BLLLLLLLLLLLONK. BLONK BLONK BLONK BLLLLOOOOONK. Know what I mean? There are appropriate times for when honking is required and useful, just like BLOGGING IN ALL CAPS AND USING WORDS LIKE BLONK IS EFFECTIVE UNDER THE RIGHT CIRUMSTANCES!!! BLONNNK.

Aside from modifying my vehicle to honk in a much less jarring fashion, I thought I would provide some helpful tips to those equipped with horns and are unsure of the proper and respectful ways with which to use them:

  1. It is theoretically possible to honk in a friendly fashion, usually in the form of two short bleeps. This could be written as “bleep, bleep”, “tut, tut”, or “bweep bweep.” It helps if you are an old, friendly granpa with a farming hat on, driving a big ol’ boat of a Cadillac, and you accompany the “bweep bweep” with a friendly smile or farmer’s truck wave (you know the gesture I speak of). It does not help if you drive a newer car with one of those button horns, which severely limit the tones and volume allowed by the horn. More of a “BLNKBLNK” if that’s the case. Use the “bweep bweep” in situations where you are indicating to another party such as a pedestrian or car that they should go ahead and cross the road/take the available parking spot. Aww, aren’t you such a gentlemen. Do not use the “bweep bweep” while driving above 10 km/h, especially on the highway. You can get into trouble with this kind of honk if you honk for too long and don’t do the friendly smile, so be careful. This is not the honk to use however if you are picking up a friend at their house and want them to come get in the car without you knocking on the door. That honk is lame, and should only be used in the most sparing of circumstances.
  2. If you are going to use the honk to express your annoyance or frustration with a fellow driver or pedestrian, *use* the honk. Use it right away- right after someone cuts you off or pulls out in front of the intersection. Use the honk for just a little bit longer than you would yell “HEY!” if an analogous situation were to have happened with all automobiles replaced with horses. If it’s too short, and does not apply to the situation listed in #1 above, you’ll come off sounding like a person who overuses the honk. If it’s too long, more than 2 seconds, and it will appear that you are lingering on the honk. This makes you an instant asshole, sorry. Only assholes love long and extended kinds of honking. It really is a delicate art; if you don’t think you can handle it I would suggest you don’t honk.
  3. Not honking is always a good option, too. A good glare with some eye-contact will convey the same amount of annoyance and induce the same amount of guilt without disrupting everyone else around you. Don’t give the finger unless you have the locks on in your car and are willing to get a window replaced.
  4. If you miss the narrow window of honk, suck it up and move on. If someone cuts you off, don’t wait until they moved to a safe distance ahead of you to let them know you had to slow down due to their poor maneuver. It’s kind of like when a puppy makes a mess in your kitchen- some would have you push the poor puppy’s nose into its business to remind it not to get busy, but it just confuses the puppy. Neither puppies nor most drivers are all the bright, sorry. This sort of honking egregiousness is the most likely to be abused by the passive aggressive, which in turn will drive the honkee absolutely bonkers until they fume and rant enough to make a blog post out of it.
  5. Here in Edmonton, you should only get to honk at most 3 times a day. And that’s being really generous. If you are continually feeling jerked around behind the wheel by your fellow citizens, here’s a hint- it’s probably you who needs driving lessons.

So, there you have it. Don’t honk unless you have to, and respect the rights of the honkee. And may I also point out that it is very rare that the LRT honks at anyone and when they do they usually deserve it for being on the tracks.

[1] Okay, okay. It was kind of my fault for getting honked at. I ran into some friends in the middle of a crosswalk, and slowed down (maaaaybe just stopping for a second). It was a really busy crosswalk (right in front of the Farmers’ Market on a Saturday), and I had crossed before the light turned, but I was probably one of the last people to cross. A vehicle turning right across the crosswalk pulled away as I stepped onto the curve and then chose to blast the horn for a too short amount of time as they sped away. I can admit that someone stopping in the intersection can be a frustration, but I was definitely faster than if I had been an old person with a walker. No one honks at them, so not fair. I would have also cleared the intersection right away if they had given me either the “bweep bweep” or even a properly timed blast. It would have been extremely challenging to find that window mind you, since we are talking about less than 20 seconds here, but they definitely would have had more sympathy than when they were too chicken for eye-contact. Grrrrrrrrr.

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3 responses to “honking etiquette

  1. remember when we used to drive together and you would try to honk my horn? i hated that.

    but i’m still sorry you got honked at.

  2. A quality post, well done Joel. That was also one of the most ridiculous posts ever. I so enjoyed the effort you made to translate all manner of honks into writing. Onomatopoeia at it’s finest.

    Additionally it sounds like you deserved to get honked at and I share similar honking etiquette to you. I pretty much only honk if someone has done/or is doing something that could kill one or both of us. But if some dumb-ass was sitting in the middle of a busy street talking to friends and blocking traffic I might make an exception, ha.

  3. joelhasausername

    i think i need to update this post, seeing as bb and i walked for a good five minutes down an alley last week to discover that someone had been patiently driving behind us. i have no idea why we didn’t hear her car! yikes, i really wish she might have honked.

    …guys am i one of those jerks who deserves to get honked at all the time. because this behaviour as of late seems to indicate yes.

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