How to toot your own horn — in the car, that is

If the light changes and the driver in front of you doesn't move, when and how do you blow the horn?

If the light changes and the driver in front of you doesn’t move, when and how do you blow the horn?

Full disclosure: I am a candidate for the title of Most Impatient Driver.

But mindful of how crazy the world is, with road ragers killing other drivers, I mostly just mutter under my breath when another driver pulls a rude or dangerous stunt. If it’s an outrageous offense, I’ll let out a variation of “Ford Frick!”* followed by some choice adjectives.

That’s usually enough to get the ya-yas out so I can go on with my otherwise mundane existence.

But here I am on a long vacation weekend in Middle America, staying at a home that’s a stone’s throw from a moderately busy four-way intersection.

Three or four times yesterday when I was in the yard, I heard drivers at the traffic signals give the horn a workout because the motorist in front of them waited too long to see the green and get moving.

I admit I’ve tapped on my horn in such situations. If it’s done gently, chances are the other driver won’t mind and will get moving.

In my reckless youth, I may have leaned on the horn more than once.  At worst, this is asking for trouble; at best, it’s inviting classic passive-aggressive behavior by the other driver, who will thoroughly enjoy lingering a few seconds more — just to annoy you further.

(I deliberately stall in the grocery store checkout line when the customer behind me gets in my personal space, or starts putting items on the conveyor belt a little too close for comfort. I go into slow-motion, and probably enjoy it more than I should.)

The subject of road rage is, I’m certain, taught in driver education programs and driving schools. On the subject of horn use, advises waiting four seconds before tapping on it to let the person in front of you know the light has changed.

The site also offers 10 tips to prevent road rage. Invoking the name of a former baseball executive isn’t on the Edmunds list, but I still think it’s a sound idea.

* Ford Frick was Commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1951 to 1965. As a lifelong fan of both baseball and profanity, I have found that uttering Mr. Ford’s name in such situations is a good way to reduce F-bombs.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in communication, driving, Irish Investigations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to How to toot your own horn — in the car, that is

  1. markbialczak says:

    I will give you three Ford Frick’s and raise you two Bart Giamattiwanttogetmovinnow’s.

    I think I am a tad too quick on the light’s-green Gomer horn-tap, now that you’ve made think of my own possible rage-tweaking moves, Jim.

    At the supermarket, I think putting the consumer place-keeper baton on the conveyor belt between your stuff and the buyer’s in front of you should help avoid space-invading and keep the peace, no?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. chmjr2 says:

    The worst case I saw was downtown Syracuse. I was working and in my office just a few floors up when I witnessed the flowing. The light had turn green and a honk of the horn sounded as the first car in line did not move. A couple of people were crossing, so the car still did not move. Either the car next in line did not see the people or did not care. The next thing I knew was the second car pushing the front car into the intersection. Yes that’s right the smell of burnt rubber and smoke filled the air. When pushed far enough forward they then went around and on their way. The women in the car being pushed got out of her car and started crying and yelling at the same time. Everyone just went on as if nothing had happen. When the light change once more she was blocking traffic, and they blew their horns at her. She got back in the car and pulled away. The whole thing took maybe two minutes, and then it was over.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jim McKeever says:

    Charles, that’s a scary story. I can only hope karma catches up with that driver, if it hasn’t already.


  4. Jim, I used to use my horn as a way to vent anger. Then I got a car that had a broken horn, so for 3 years I did not have opportunity to honk a horn. My next car’s horn worked but I had broken the habit and now I mostly only use my horn to warn of danger, i.e., hello, I’m here, don’t back your Mac truck into my car kinda thing…
    Diana xo


  5. I am SO going to love using Ford Frick!!!! SO much better than that other f-bomb! And it might just make people stop and listen, wondering what it is they think I said.


  6. LAMarcom says:

    Having spent some time (a lot of time) driving around the Middle East, let me tell ya: Americans do not use their horns anywhere near as much as those folks.
    Personally, I just adapt to the local customs. I cannot recall the last time I used my horn in the U.S.
    (but when I was driving in Egypt and Israel… it was ON!)
    Great post.
    Cheers and Honk! Honk! That frickin light’s green!


  7. Jim McKeever says:

    Colleen, I wish I had thought of Mr. Frick when my kids were young and in car seats. One time I used that other word that begins with F and ends with K, and it didn’t escape young ears. So much for “vocabulary enrichment.” 🙂


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