The Truth Behind the HONK

Anyone living in a city regards honking cars as a normal backdrop to their everyday life. But rarely do we stop to think about the true purpose and motive behind The Honk.

Car horns originated in Britain in the early 1800s with—get this—a man walking in front of the carriage waving a red flag and blowing a horn. It wasn’t just a suggestion. It was the law.

Over 200 years later, honking the car horn, aside from talking on the cell phone, seems to be a favorite pastime for drivers. It seems drivers are quicker than ever to chastise another driver for making a mistake—no matter how innocent it may be. The Honk sure has evolved from a precautionary driving tool, to a passive-aggressive road rage weapon.

The Honk no longer means, “Watch out I’m coming.” At least not very often. Now, it’s “How dare you pull out in front of me?” “Get out of my way!” Insert other expletives of choice.

How is it that in our car we will act like this, but not in real life? In the grocery store aisles, if a granny cuts you off, usually you ignore it and continue on down the cereal aisle behind her. What if we had horns everywhere we went to express dislike, rage, and general frustration at the world? Conversations and interactions would be much more…childish?

“Sir, you just lost your job.” HONNKKKK
“Ma’am, your cat just ate my geraniums.” HONK HONK HONK
“We’ll, looks like the apartment above you left their water running…all night long.” What the HONK?!!

Maybe the car is just the only place where we can vent frustration at human society in general. Luckily, it’s as easy to give a Honk as it is to ignore one. If you can rise above the passive aggressive car horn fascination.

To read a full history of Honks, click here.