A Few Tips On The Use Of Horns

Larry Price
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Wednesday - September 21, 2011
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For responding police officers, this 911 call must have been like a scene from a television cartoon. A man honked his horn impatiently at a car ahead of him at a drive-thru restaurant in Kahala last week. The driver of the car who got “honked” got out of his vehicle and physically assaulted the ‘honker.” The police were called and they arrested the “honkee” for unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, and released him pending further investigation.

This incident is worthy of note by motorists in Hawaii, because it doesn’t happen very often and there is a lot to be learned from what happened, especially if you have driven in places like Japan, New York, Paris and Rome, to name a few. In these places, the motorist’s horn is a weapon and they blow it for every little thing. If you’ve lived in Europe or Asia for a time, one of the first things you will notice when you come back to Hawaii is that very seldom is a honking horn heard. People appear to drive with Aloha.

OK, there’s a difference between the highways and byways and a drive-thru at a fast food restaurant in Kahala. It’s not the kind of place you’d hear screeching brakes or see flashing blue police vehicles. A drive-thru at a restaurant is not like the zip lane on a freeway. There are no stop signs or speed limits to worry about. It’s strictly stop-and-go traffic. No motorist ever gets a ticket for driving too slow or speeding through a drive-thru. No one gets cited for following too close or changing lanes illegally or crossing a double line. So what happened?

Obviously, the case will work its way to the Supreme Court in a couple of years and the Legislature will consider passing a bill making it unlawful to honk your horn at any and all drive-thru restaurants. Motorists charged under this new ordinance could be required to take the same roadside tests used on suspected drunken drivers. If found guilty by the test, the motorist would be fined 1,000 Big Macs and one-year probation, where the motorist would have to do 500 hours of community service at a Ronald McDonald House.

In fact, honking your horn is discouraged in all driver education programs unless a honking horn will warn a fellow motorist of impending danger. There’s a lot more to the psychology behind this incident that deserves observation.

The cause for this behavior probably has more to do with an impatient motorist having a bad day. It was not over slow service or rude behavior by other passengers. Simply put, we don’t need legislation to protect motorists navigating a drive-thru lane at any restaurant. This is just a case of someone in a hurry.

On a bigger stage, knowing when to blow your own horn is a more formidable behavior to analyze, because it can invoke many strange behaviors. So consider this.

Don’t blow your own horn, let some else do it for you. It’s safer. And if you must blow your horn at someone, do it gently and with aloha.

A little honk goes a long way.

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