On Horns: Are We Better Off Without Them?

The other day I screwed up, and the aftermath made me think…would cars be safer without horns?

You may or may not know I drive a lumber truck for work. Its a Freightliner 114SD with a Princeton Piggyback lift on the back, and it has a GVW of 64,000lbs. The whole rig basically looks like this, albeit a Freightliner.


Anyway, I was passing a slow moving line of vehicles on the left and the road was going down to one lane. I thought I had passed the last vehicle, my passing speed should have ensured I passed him easily, but apparently he sped up so he was right next to me as my lane was ending.

Not only was he next to me, he was in my truck’s fairly massive blind spot. Also, I don’t know if you know this, but trucks like mine are fairly loud inside…so it was something of a miracle I heard his horn at all. I was doing a thing where I was listening to all of David Lee Roth’s Van Halen albums that day, so if this was during Panama I wouldn’t have heard him. Anyway.

I heard the horn and I’m frantically searching my mirrors for this vehicle, I can’t see it, so I hit my brakes hard and he squeaks by me on my right just before my lane ends. Initially I was relieved I had avoided the collision, but it got me thinking. Why did he hit the horn?

He’s driving a 3000lb Toyota Camry. I’m driving, again, a 64000lb truck. There’s no dimension in which my truck moves better than his car. He could have accelerated and passed me easily. He could have braked and got behind me easily…I don’t drive a trailer truck, the thing is about 3 car lengths long, he’d have been behind me in a second. But he did what all stupid people do, he hit the horn.


In other words, he did the one thing he could do that wouldn’t actually stop an accident from happening. And I feel like that’s what people always do, they hit the horn instead of actually taking an action. I mean I could have killed that guy with this truck, and he took as near to no action to save his own life as makes no difference.

So I’ve been thinking we might be better off without horns, or at least we need to teach people the right way to use them. If you hit your horn before you hit your brakes, you’re doing it wrong.

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