Horns and cars are like peanut butter and jelly, and like armpits. Correlation; you don’t think of peanut butter without jelly and everyone has at least one armpit, as do all vehicles. Some interesting facts, when cars were simple and a technician had a no crank it was second nature to just bump the horn and turn on the lights to see if the battery was dead. Not so easy today, but back then it was a simple test.
The first standard electric horn was developed by Oliver Lucas of Birmingham, England in 1910. It was a small electromagnet system that would cause a steel diaphragm to vibrate and create a tone. At first, it was a single note that would sound in the 107-109 decibels, which should be audible for at least 30 feet. As time has gone on and vehicles have changed so too has the horn.
Most vehicles today have two horns one blowing an F- sharp and A- sharp notes that are loud enough and yet not shrieking to the human ear. If so desired there are now horns that play different notes and now they can be electronically programmed to play songs. This is all well and good for a change but do not forget the real reason that the horn was invented, to alert passersby and pedestrians that a motor vehicle was in the vicinity and to use caution.
Unfortunately, drivers of these early motor vehicles felt that because they blew their horns that they were not required to take any evasive actions when a pedestrian was in their path. In the early 1900’s there were many deaths of pedestrians that were hit by motor vehicles because those drivers felt that by sounding their horns that they had the right of way and said pedestrians either did not respond quickly enough or didn’t have enough sense to yield to a moving vehicle coming down upon them.
I see this scenario almost every day when people find themselves going the wrong way on Rte. 41. We are blasted by multiple horns sounding at the poor driver that is going the wrong way, but nobody stops and allows this hapless person to turn around so they are forced or incensed enough to continue on their way usually to make a right-hand turn on Olympia which is also one way going the wrong way. So much for our entertainment.
So here is the true way to use your horns; first, if there is no reason to use your horns, especially in a residential area in the middle of the night, then don’t.
Second; if you see a friend and want to say hi, a quick double-tap is fine.
Third; if you have someone that is encroaching on your path, either by mistake or as a poor driver, first avoid the accident then a single blast for just a second is sufficient. Holding down on the horn for ten seconds will only infuriate the other driver and at least in Florida could end up with a gun being drawn.
Fourth; if while waiting for a light to turn green and the driver ahead of you, does not peel out at the very instant the light changes does not give you the authority to honk your horn at him, if he doesn’t move after a few seconds he’s probably texting and a simple double-tap will wake him up, once again prolonged blasting is known to result in gunfire, unless you’re in Brooklyn then he will stay there until the light turns red again or get out of his vehicle with a baseball bat and destroy your windshield.
Fifth; if by chance you are next to or behind a driver with lights out or a door open, safely come up to his driver’s side and open your passenger window, before tapping on your horn several times in quick short bursts so that he realizes that you are trying to communicate with him. When he opens his window tell him whatever it is that is the problem once and then leave them alone.
If that vehicle does not wish to communicate with you then either pass him or get away from him so that if an accident is about to occur you will not be involved. Once again pestering people tends to bring out weapons which is never good.
Remember horns do not take the place of driving intelligently, they, in fact, a communication devise that predates cell phones by a hundred years.
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