Honking Your Horn

We’ve been told, since taking drivers’ education classes, that the horn on the vehicle is a “warning device”. What exactly does this mean? Obviously its use is to “warn” others, either pedestrians or drivers, but the question is: warn them of what?

I grew up and learned to drive in St. Louis, consequently I use my horn frequently and sometimes vociferously. Drives my husband nuts, he seems to think that every time I honk at someone they’ll whip out a gun and blow me away. I’ve tried to tell him that, at least here in St. Louis, that is not going to happen; when we lived in Texas, well, it may have been a possibility.

There are many ways to use your horn, and almost all of them involve a “warning”:

A short “toot” can either mean “hey, wake up!” or simply be an acknowledgement of a considerate road gesture, such as letting you into a long line of barely moving traffic.

A longer blast can indicate a cause for celebration, or can mean “hey, you! Yeah, you! The light turned green five minutes ago!”

A moderately-long honk can mean “get outta my way, loser”, or “hey, no one said you had to keep FIVE car lengths between you and another vehicle”.

Of course, any of these types of honks can be accompanied by mouthing other words, or even a simple hand gesture (rude or otherwise).

See, the thing about driving is that most people are completely clueless. It’s not so much that they think they are great drivers (although some of us certainly are!), but that they think driving is a no-brainer activity. And many appear to have no brains, period.

For example, a driver who comes to a screeching halt to allow someone to pull out of a parking lot. That driver believes he is being nice and considerate. What he fails to notice are the thirty-five cars piled up behind him, who all had to slam on their brakes unexpectedly.

These same drivers are often the ones who wander from lane to lane, change lanes in the midst of an intersection, or try to turn right from the left-hand lane.

We’re all taught to drive defensively. “Defensively” does not mean crawl along at a snail’s pace, hitting the brakes anytime you see another car moving. This is the ROAD, cars will move! Just because the traffic light three blocks up turns yellow, doesn’t mean you have to stop right then and there and inch forward till you get there!

My mother has said, pridefully, that she’s never had an accident while driving. I wonder if she ever looked in her rear view mirror to see how many she CAUSED?


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