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Soumik Dey
Soumik Dey


What makes Indians honk?

road-traffic-reuters Almost all the people surveyed think that honking is overused and heavy vehicles are more to be blamed for this | Reuters

Ever wondered why Indians are one of the loudest people on the road and perhaps the least unaware about the effect honking has on us as well as to the environment?

Where there is a problem, there is also (business) opportunity for some. A US based firm, wanting to answer this precise question have engaged Indian design firm Think Design Collaborative.

The survey, conducted in Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida and Hyderabad, divided 29 research participants into two major groups—those driving for work and those driving for leisure. Six more drivers whose honking instances were too less were not included in the survey.

Driving for work were people in job, businessperson, taxi drivers and driving for leisure were homemakers, family with kids and college students.

Researchers then accompanied these participants on their drive to determine what causes them to honk more and noted all instances as 'Avoidable' and 'Unavoidable' reasons for honking.

Personal interviews were conducted with the drivers. Surprisingly, most people, at least in the two metros found driving a frustrating ordeal.

"Most people see driving as a chore and not as pleasure. Another surprising factor that came up was that pollution affected their driving," said Hari Nallan, CEO and Chief strategist of 12-year-old indigenous design firm started by NID, Ahmedabad graduates.

"The results that came from our surveyors were surprising. During the test drive, a leisurely Indian driver honked thrice the instances of unavoidable honking on road, while the person driving for work honked ten to eleven times the unavoidable honking situations," said Nallan.

"We were asked to do the survey as the US client was aware of our reputation in design thinking to solving various problems from industrial to civic issues," said Eeshwar Chopraa, Director strategy, Think Design Collaborative.

While the product being developed is not within the scope of things, here is a sneak peak of the report prepared by the firm in 2015 for its US client and shared exclusively with THE WEEK:

Honking: A necessity or Overused
• Almost all the people surveyed think that it is overused and heavy vehicles are more to be blamed for this
• The only solution to avoid noise pollution on road was rolling up windows
• Unnecessary honking on signals, using horn to intimidate others and honking out of habit are few of the common examples of overused honking
• An average Indian driver honked 34 times on an average drive of 17 km covered in 40.87 minutes drive time
• As demonstrated by the test subjects in the two cities, 81 per cent honking were unavoidable instances

*Top five excuses for avoidable honking by Indian drivers *
Top 5 - Precautionary
Top 4 - Without any reason
Top 3 - Repetitive
Top 2 - While overtaking
Topmost - Asking for Pass

Five unavoidable reasons for honking on Indian roads
Top 5 - At others mistake
Top 4 - Obstacles/Blockages
Top 3 - Precautionary
Top 2 - Seeking way
Topmost - Sudden instances

There are several other reasons for honking demonstrated by Indian drivers
• as a reaction to a situation, to make way
• to caution or alert
• as a medium to show objection

Two other observed reasons for honking depend on time and on attitude of driver.Most people also honk out of fear of loss, visibility and pedestrians. But Indians also communicate through honking. For reasons like:
• Sign of relieve on finishing drive
• Irritation in slow traffic
• Excitement following a popular song
• Gaining attention
• Asking another car not to capture spot
• Instinctive honking
• Not knowingly or habitual honker

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