Honk More, Wait More
February 4, 2020 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Police in Mumbai, India were tired of drivers honking while stopped at red lights, so they hooked a few of the lights to decibel meters. The more you honk, the longer the light will take. They put up signs but not everyone figured it out, so they put up a video to explain it. There's also a New York Times article here.
posted by Slinga (30 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
That's an excellent first step. Second phase of the plan: get car manufacturers to rig the horns so that they're exactly as loud inside the vehicle as they are outside it. That will at least stop the ones who honk when the driver in front of them doesn't get their foot off the brake pedal the first nanosecond after the light turns green. And the ones who honk at traffic that's backed up for five blocks, apparently in the belief that honking will make a giant traffic jam magically move faster. And probably a few other types of nuisance honkers.
posted by holborne at 12:15 PM on February 4 [23 favorites]


Having tried similar tactics with my cat, I am skeptical that this will succeed
posted by billjings at 12:18 PM on February 4 [19 favorites]


It’s a beautiful rush hour in Mumbai and you are a horrible goose.
posted by acb at 12:19 PM on February 4 [71 favorites]


So what you're saying is all I need is a couple of Arduinos hooked up to a battery powered horn and I can create my own traffic jam?
It's like a low tech version of the dude with a wagon full of Android phones...
posted by madajb at 12:49 PM on February 4 [10 favorites]


Can someone please do something similar for people who drive into an intersection on a yellow because they think they can sneak in, and then get stuck in the intersection on the red? My original concept of spike strips and bollards popping up on yellow lights didn't make it past city council for some reason.
posted by chrominance at 12:59 PM on February 4 [10 favorites]


Seems like this is a great way to increase violence at high-traffic intersections, at least, it would in the U.S.—it would probably not even take a day for someone in an American city to shoot another driver, who wouldn’t quit honking at a red light...or for the trolls to venture out into the real world, just to honk and tie up traffic as much as possible. In short, I no longer trust solutions that rely on the good-faith actions of my fellow human beings.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:00 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Seems like this is a great way to increase violence at high-traffic intersections

There's a lot less violence at high-traffic intersections where the cars are stopped than at ones they're flying through at 50mph, though. Maybe a little more mens rea to the violence, but that doesn't count for that much in the long run.
posted by ambrosen at 1:08 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Can someone please do something similar for people who drive into an intersection on a yellow because they think they can sneak in, and then get stuck in the intersection on the red?

Many/some cities/states have "block the box" rules that result in drivers' license points or vehicle impoundment if youre caught doing exactly that.

I mostly dropped in to make sure veryone knows what Mumbai's busses sound like when they use their horns, because i find it personally hilarious.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:13 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


This change is a bit at odds with India's Horn OK Please culture, where trucks expect you to honk at them when overtaking them. Different context; it's not about red lights or traffic frustration. But India's relationship with car horns is quite different than, say, Sweden's.
posted by Nelson at 1:19 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Some more explanation .... in some places in India it's common for people to start driving 5-10 seconds before the light changes from red to green (heart stopping to a westerner!) - this isn't helped by traffic lights that count down the red-green transition. The honking they are trying to stop is people honking at the people who haven't moved before the lights change. In this case the cops want to stop the whole movement before the lights change thing so they're installing this stuff to remove the peer pressure to move
posted by mbo at 1:39 PM on February 4 [16 favorites]


A woman thought this up didn’t they

Because it’s brilliant
posted by um at 2:04 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


...quite different than, say, Sweden's.

I imagine Swedish drivers lie awake at night thinking about how embarrassed they were that one time they tapped their horn because they were sliding on an icy road and almost hit that other car.

Or, they lie awake at night traumatized because they were honked at, and with just enough time they were able to move out of the way of that car sliding on the ice.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:30 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


Many/some cities/states have "block the box" rules that result in drivers' license points or vehicle impoundment if youre caught doing exactly that.

I mean, in theory that sounds fantastic. In practice, it requires traffic police to DO THEIR JOBS. So forgive me if I'd rather have the spike strips and bollards.
posted by chrominance at 2:43 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


This is obviously my day to quote Roger Ebert, but he had a few things to say about being A Moviegoer In Calcutta

All drivers honk their horns constantly. There is a kind of code. Some honks mean, "Pedestrian, jump out of the way quickly as I am not going to stop." Others mean, "I am now cutting you off." Little toots mean, "Don't get any ideas about slowing down because I am maintaining a constant speed and am one and a half inches from your rear bumper." Long angry blasts mean, "You are heading directly toward me in my lane." Then there is a happy little tap that simply means, "I exist."

I have never been to India and cannot vouch for this.

I have been to China, however, and Ebert might as well have written this about China. A five minute drive involved more uses of the horn than I have made in my entire life.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:03 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


This is much smarter than my town, where the city put up visible decibel meters on major streets to combat vehicle noise complaints (mainly loud mufflers). They had to take them down because people kept trying to set a high score.
posted by figurant at 3:04 PM on February 4 [17 favorites]


As someone who instinctively slows down when tailgated or honked at, I find this concept deliciously satisfying in an utterly petty way.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 3:24 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


figurant, that says something about Edmonton.

I don't know that it's good, but it says something about Edmonton.

Mind you, all they needed to do was attach a camera to the meter and fine anyone who triggered it.
posted by jrochest at 4:03 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I have traveled a lot in both India and China, trust me China has nothing on India in the honking arena - once I was travelling along a narrow windy road in Kerala in a tuk-tuk, the driver was honking, and essentially echolocating with the driver honking coming the other way
posted by mbo at 5:04 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I who have been to India can state that the few traffic lights in Delhi are suggestions only. The light goes to red and they don't even slow down -- only when the opposing traffic starts edging into the intersection do they slow and finally stop.
posted by Rash at 6:26 PM on February 4


I feared when my Indian bus driver wasn't honking... it means he suddenly needed both hands to steer.
posted by tinker at 6:50 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


In short, I no longer trust solutions that rely on the good-faith actions of my fellow human beings.

The video was adorable. The ad made it almost seem like a lottery or a bingo game but then LooseFilter said this and now I'm sad.

I live at the corner of a five-way intersection. Two of the streets are one way and three are two-way. Only one street has a stop sign. I know from honking.
posted by bendy at 7:16 PM on February 4


Gentle caution that this "terrible Indian drivers" shtick, while amusing, is starting to feed on tropes of how chaotic the "Third World" is rather than the actual video. At least the Roger Ebert quote acknowledges a hidden language that the rest of y'all aren't able or willing to suss out.

Back to TFV (the fucking video). I'd be interested to hear from any Mumbaikar Mefites about this -- has it worked? Seems like a clever solution to a pervasive noise problem in one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
posted by basalganglia at 4:39 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


So as you approach the intersection, traffic is crawling but the light is green. If you are afraid it will change before you get there, can you blow your horn to make it stay green? Or is the meter sensitive enough to locate the source of the noise?
posted by TreeRooster at 5:11 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Gentle caution that this "terrible Indian drivers" shtick, while amusing, is starting to feed on tropes of how chaotic the "Third World" is rather than the actual video.

Sorry, where is it you’re seeing a shtick about terrible Indian drivers?
posted by holborne at 5:57 AM on February 5


In a few places (I've seen them in Portugal and Germany) there are traffic lights that are triggered by speeding drivers. If you speed through a certain point, a traffic light a short distance down the road turns red. Oddly drivers are much more respectful of red traffic lights than speed limits, so in my limited experience they're pretty effective.

There's something odd about TFV - it's all cute B-roll and then ends abrubtly. It looks like a viral marketing stunt rather than a serious project. Are the Mumbai Police thirsty for views? I feel like I'm missing something.
posted by grahamparks at 5:58 AM on February 5


I'm more for a cap and trade honking solution.

You can honk but after a certain amount of honking you start paying a fee per honk.

Or maybe a digital solution where eventually your honk gets replaced with the sound of a crying baby.
posted by srboisvert at 7:32 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Some more explanation .... in some places in India it's common for people to start driving 5-10 seconds before the light changes from red to green (heart stopping to a westerner!) - this isn't helped by traffic lights that count down the red-green transition. The honking they are trying to stop is people honking at the people who haven't moved before the lights change. In this case the cops want to stop the whole movement before the lights change thing so they're installing this stuff to remove the peer pressure to move

This has become a Chicago thing. There are now almost always cars honking at other cars to pressure them to drive into pedestrians during rush hour. I'd like to see drivers who do this charged with inciting violence.
posted by srboisvert at 7:38 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


A few years ago in Chicago I became convinced that you were legally required to honk while turning left.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 8:45 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Sorry, where is it you’re seeing a shtick about terrible Indian drivers?

"I who have been to India can state that the few traffic lights in Delhi are suggestions only."

"I feared when my Indian bus driver wasn't honking... it means he suddenly needed both hands to steer."

"I have never been to India.... I have been to China, however" [this one is a terrible Chinese drivers one, but the implication is that these two VERY different countries are basically identical in their lack of road politeness.]

A big part of intellectual colonialism relies on painting the colonized as selfish/foolish children incapable of following grown-up rules like when and when not to honk. Noise pollution is a legit problem in Mumbai, and this is a clever and funny solution, but please let's hold on the travelogue "I went to Asia this one time and there was COLOR and NOISE and TRAFFIC."
posted by basalganglia at 10:11 AM on February 5 [7 favorites]


That's an excellent first step. Second phase of the plan: get car manufacturers to rig the horns so that they're exactly as loud inside the vehicle as they are outside it.

I think this beats the plan I always trot out: Design a horn that can only be honked five times before it turns on the check engine light and you need to go to an authorized service center to get five more honks.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:01 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


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