Dear friends of Switchback,
Our mayor in Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, has recently been holding Townhall meetings on how to reduce the amazingly huge deficit that our city has. I applaud the idea first of having a Townhall meeting, because ordinary people have extraordinarily good ideas that should be implemented. And, in the city of Chicago, it’s going to take a lot of ideas to bring in the much-needed revenue to put the city fiscally on its feet.
I have a suggestion for her honor, the mayor.
Tax car horns.
You heard me right, I am sick and tired of hearing the sound of car horns. I think that a lot of people in my neighborhood mistake them for the accelerator, and step on them whenever they want to go faster. And, part of my observation is that the vast majority of people sharing the road with me these days seem to of received their driver's license without learning the rules of the road.
Like the young kid who pulled up behind me as I was already driving five miles over the speed limit In the middle of a three lane interstate. He honked his horn so I would get out of his way. Yes, he could’ve passed me on the left or the right of the interstate easily, but that would require thinking and changing lanes (and God forbid, signaling) so why think when one can honk? Doesn’t this horn make this car go faster anyway?
During the course of the day, especially in the city, car horns go off whenever a driver feels that that driver needs to be heard around the world. Never mind that we are all stuck on the same rain soaked traffic lane, slowly inching forward. THAT driver needs special treatment NOW. When that person lays on the horn, I find myself jumping about three feet in the air. And, according to statistics about 50% of Americans react with some level of road rage at that point. Approximately 36% will use their own car horn’s in return and according to Driversed.com, about 37% will pull a gun.
It was one Oliver Rees of Birmingham, England that invented the electric car horn around 1910. Before that was the famous klaxon, which was a car horn that most people associate with the model T Ford.
The Klaxon had a quaint, almost cheerful sound, Sort of a “do please get out of my way ol chap” sound
Apparently Oliver Rees like that other Oliver, Oliver Cromwell, decided to wreak as much havoc on the English-speaking world by invading our senses with the electric car horn. Simply put, it was made out of necessity as cars got faster they needed a sound that could carry further and further and louder and louder. Car horns became a means of communication for drivers, sometimes just a friendly honk for a neighbor mowing the lawn, or a triple tap when leaving the house of the relatives at Thanksgiving time, those were the benign uses other than truly warning somebody of eminent danger. Car horns are legally on cars because of the latter.
It’s the former, that now causes problems. People have decided that the car horn is not for warning, but for expressing emotions. Usually annoyance, anger or both. Add to that ignorance of the etiquette of driving and you have a caustic acoustical cocktail of the Molotov kind.
Science has stepped in to analyze what would make the more effective car horn. A Motor1.com article by Chris Bruce, stared that researchers from South Korea, (a country that I imagine has a lot of horn honking), found a soothing almost melodic sound that could alert people to any sort of danger: a duck’s quack.
The researchers concluded: “The selected sound can be utilized in any motor vehicles available at the market so that not only the drivers honking but also the pedestrians hearing the car-horn sound can live more comfortably without hearing any annoying noise from the streets,”
Ah, for the soft sound of the duck quack. I can imagine the commercial now. The Stetsoned cowboy driving his Ford F150 pickup, Single-handedly driving a herd of Longhorn cattle, all the while keeping them on the move with a “quack, quack, quack”. Sam Elliot’s Texas drawl saying, “built Ford tough, now with Mallard or hardy Wood Duck.”
In my neighborhood, for a while, the owner of my favorite Mexican restaurant, had a car horn that played “La Cucaracha.” And, I never heard it sounded once in anger, or so I think. And, in some ways I gave a lot of character to the community.
But imagine if you had all the cars playing a different song?
No, I’m afraid we are probably stuck with the car horn as it is until modern technology creates a better way to alert us to danger. However as we technologically advance it takes decades or even centuries to emotionally advance. That’s the problem.
My simple solution is that each car horn is rigged with a camera that records as you honk. Like a rolling speed camera, it would charge a fee every time the horn is used incorrectly. Drivers then would become trained at being restrained. They would know that to use the horn would only be free in the case of a true emergency. Honking at somebody to get out of your lane would cost you. Trying to get a deer to not cross the road would cost you nothing.
So Mayor Lightfoot probably could find a quick and easy financial solution to the cities fiscal woes and soothe my frayed nerves. I hope she does it soon because I am about to quack!
American Roots & Celtic Soul