When is it appropriate for drivers to blow their one-note trumpet? Almost always, according to Frank C. Hall’s 1948 Digest of Automobile Accident Cases. Here are some instances where honking is the right thing to do:
Really, one wonders, with so much blowing, how any of those horns could serve as a warning. In the heyday of swing, the streets were alive with modern jazz. But what silenced the music? Possibly turn signals and brake lights, both of which began to be mentioned in Canadian courts in the 1950s.
Yes, sadly, things have changed. Drivers have reduced their tooting to a few specific occasions: to express alarm or annoyance, celebrate a wedding or sports victory, say hello, or announce that they have arrived to pick up passengers. Some jurisdictions even outlaw honking after 11 pm – what good is that?
And cars are digital devices now, so there’s no longer a need for monotonous blurts. Just download your Horntones application (or even Car Tones), and you can make a crow’s caws, a wolf howl, a Homer Simpson grunt (D’OH!), Vincent Price’ laughter, Joan Jett’s “OW!,” or even the opening blasts of John Coltrane’s Meditations album (which really sounds like car horns – actually scratch that one). The time has come for a new golden age of horns.