Tag Archives: honk

Honk if you can bear it

The in basket:  I was talking recently with a local doctor who had been to France this summer and had previously lived in Boston. After we shared our mutual appreciation for the effectiveness of roundabouts, he had an observation.

Driving around here would be safer if we Northwesterners would get over our aversion to honking our vehicles’ horns, he said.

Beeping at other drivers is a common practice in Boston and France, he said, and is as common as using your turn signal. He didn’t mean laying on your horn, just tapping it to say, “I’m here next to you.”

In the Northwest, it’s taken either as an insult or a provocation, he said.

The out basket: It don’t know how many of you have seen the movie “Waitress,” but the main character’s brute of a husband always announced his arrival at wherever she was with three blasts of his car horn. It was very annoying.

And I must admit to suffering from the very aversion the doctor mentioned. I’m even reluctant to use my horn to acknowledge someone or say hi. I do honk if the driver ahead of me doesn’t respond to the light turning green, and is looking sideways.

I do so despite knowing that there is a law against it. Our state law says “The driver of a motor vehicle shall when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation give audible warning with his or her horn but shall not otherwise use such horn when upon a highway.” The fine is $124 in the off chance one gets cited for not complying.

The doctor said his suggestion fits comfortably within that safe-operation guideline, broadly defined.

I have no illusions about the Road Warrior column’s  ability to overcome this ingrained societal aversion to honking. But I’m curious as to how far east one must go before horn honking is customary. I associate it with East Coast cab drivers.

I’m hoping to mine the collective experiences of you readers about this phenomenon. Drop a comment below or send me an e-mail if you have something to say.