I find car horns to be totally useless. I have never once honked a horn and achieved the desired result.

On the rare occasion when I want to use my horn, say when someone is about to back into me in a parking lot, I can’t find it. I’m slamming my fists into the steering wheel hard enough to activate the airbag, but the horn makes not a peep. But the upside is that people tend to not mess with a crazy lady banging her fists on the steering wheel.

The other problem with car horns, at least in my car, is that it is basically a one size fits all noise – angry. I suspect the standard car horn was made by a New York cabbie that got up on the wrong side of the bed.

What we need are car horns with some nuances, some southern charm. Car horns that are all “Hey y’all” and “Bless your heart”. Just think, instead of road rage and drive by shootings, we’d have drive by blessings.

For example, you know when you are behind someone at a stop light and the light turns green and the person ahead of you has obviously zoned out – and really, who among us has not zoned out at a stop light a time or two? You don’t really want to jump their case and blast them with the angry horn, you just want to give them a nudge.

So then, wouldn’t it be nice to have the option of giving them a lyrical little toot toot that said, “Yo! Sistah! The light! It’s green! Bless your heart! Have a nice day!”

However, there are times when something slightly stronger and less lyrical is required, but you still don’t want to use the angry horn. Like on those occasions when you need the guy in the pickup truck in front of you to pull up juuuuust enough so that you could slide over into the turn lane and make that right on red and you know in your heart that he’s not letting you by because he’s got a point to make and he’s going to make it when really, he’s driving a gimonguous pickup truck (in the cityburbs) which says I’m small it all. Anyway — a horn that said, “Dude! Mr. Big Pickup driver! Any chance I could slide past? Bless your heart! Have a nice day!!” That would be ideal, don’t you think?

Of course, it would also be nice to have a horn that conveyed, “It’s that time of the month buster, don’t mess with me, ah am on mah way to BRAUMS!! Bless your heart! Have a nice day! Now get outta the passin’ lane.”

Or how about an “Ooops!” horn? Like when I accidentally honk the horn and then the person in front of me thinks I’m trying to make some sort of point and they give me the smoldery fish eye in the rearview mirror. And then I have to pantomime “Whoops! I’m a horn honking dork! My bad! Silly me! Bless your heart! Have a nice day!”

The upside to that is people tend to get out of the way pantomiming crazy ladies on their way to Braums.

69 thoughts on “Horns

  1. I love this post! I’ve thought not of a different sound for horns, but SIGNS! Yes, signs that pop up from the top of your car showing on both sides. And on the dashboard you have multiple options to choose from. Such as: (as you’ve already mentioned) can you scoot up just a tad? Can I squeeze in? My personal favorite is “Stop riding my tail!” Although that one’s not nice. But a horn would alert the person in front of me. Not the back! Hence the signs. =)

  2. I drive a Honda so any time I honk, I send a frou frou girly girl message. “Tweet.”

    (This does not detract from my love of all things “Honda.”)

    Hubs is one who will use the horn now and again, but not until waaaaay past the time it could have been useful. Example, he gets all honked off at someone and five minutes later decides to slam on the horn. Real effective, Mr. Phlegmatic.

  3. This is one of your best ones yet!

    I’ve thought of having signs, too, as Jamy mentioned. I’d like one that pops up as I’m passing someone. That way, I could give them some helpful information like, “Your blinker is still on!” or “Your tail light is out!”

  4. Huh, there’s a pink piggy beetle car in CT, too!

    I’ve often wished for the alternate “toot, toot!” as well, especially as we do it to say “hi” to some neighbors whenever we drive by. Sadly for any nearby drivers, who then wonder what the heck we’re beeping about.

  5. I’ve ALWAYS wanted one of those old-fashioned, cartoony horns that screamed a gutteral AAAAUUUUUUUU-GAH! Perhaps that could be the on-the-way-to-Braums horn.

    I’m not an aggressive person, but there’s something about that particular sound that would let off some real steam for me (especially when compared to my wussy, nasally “meep-meep” roadrunner horn).

  6. This is cute! I give two short beeps for “Hi!” and several loud long blasts for those who have really annoyed me. (However, I usually reserve the loud, annoyed beeps for when I’m driving in big cities!)

  7. I am SO with you.

    Problem is, I would probably hit the “Get Outta My WAY, slowpoke!” horn when I intended to hit the “Oh pleasepleaseplease, I have to go to the bathroom and you are driving 10 miles under the speed limit and oh, bless your heart, you don’t know what it is to be old and fat and have lost the bladder control you used to pride yourself on…”

    Come to think of it, “Get Outta My WAY, slowpoke!” might not be such a bad choice, after all.

  8. When we bought my vehicle, they said it has a “custom” horn. I expected it to play Dixie or something. Thankfully, all it does it make this wimpy squeak that sounds like a clown on a bicycle. It makes everyone laugh when I use it. Like, “”what was that ridiculous sound?” I think it’s far better than a regular horn. You can hear it but it is most certainly not an angry horn. I think it fits me nicely.

  9. I need a horn that says “Mrs. W is here. She’s not mad, she’s only honking to make sure you know she’s here. She’s not trying to rush you,” for when I’m sitting in the driveway of one of my kids’ friends – like daily.

    Also, we honk daily at the neighbor kids because they like to hear our horn as we drive away. We need something really fun for that.

  10. Living in a small town, it would also be handy to have a “Hey, there!” honk. That seems to be the only reason I ever use my horn. Hey, there’s my mom walking downtown. HONK. And then all the drivers think I’m angry.

  11. Ooo — my husband and I have wanted signs too. But instead of signs, we want one of those running light signs. Much more customizable. “Didn’t know if you knew the limit is 55 here” or “Your blinker is on” or “Where’d you get Starbucks around here?” or “I love your car” or when I’m in my small town, “Grocery store is two more blocks on the left.”

  12. You had to mention Braums! I often travel to OK City for work and have fallen in love with Braums. On my last trip (which was 5 weeks long) my husband and daughters came with me. My husband fell head-over-heals in love with Braums. To the point that we have their jelly packets in our fridge here and whenever he sees one he comments on how he wishes we had a Braums.

    But, about the horn…we have a guard station at work and if you show up at an off time the guards don’t always see you pull up. I need a “hey, I am out here- please come open the gate” horn. I always try to honk lightly…but it never seems to work- always sounds like I am laying on the horn.

  13. Surely with all the technology in the cars these days, they can come up with something better than “HONK”. I’ve always wanted something like what you’re talking about. It would have to be pre-programmed though because of the whole freedom of speech thing this country loves so much. You can only imagine what kinds of words would be flyin’ if some people were left to their own devices. Oh mercy, you certainly couldn’t let the children ride in the car. Rush hour could become R rated in a hurry. Loved this post!

  14. I love, love this post! IKE wreaked some havoc on the traffic lights out here and many of them are still out. People have been driving like madmen lately.

    Yesterday I was driving to the party store and honked at a family that came, oh about 3 millimeters from hitting me as the mom was trying to cross 6 (no exaggeration)lanes of traffic at once. The teenage boy in the back flipped me off!

    For cases like that we need a horn that says: “Somebody should have taught you how to drive so you wouldn’t go around trying to kill your entire family and everybody else on the road! Bless your heart. And teach your kids some manners…bless your heart! Have a nice day.”

    I wonder what that one would sound like…

  15. I love this idea. I think Ford should be contacted immediately.

    I should add, though, that my horn says, “Come get that scooter out of the garage so I can park, you turkey, I’ve told you and told you not to leave it there DON’T MAKE ME GET OUT OF THIS CAR” and it does usually have the desired result.

  16. You may be on to something here. I haven’t honked many times for fear of upsetting someone when all I wanted was to get their attention.

    And I hate it when I can’t find the stupid horn button. I feel like such an idiot.

  17. I love reading your post…love everything you write!

    This is so funny but you know you are on to something here!!!

  18. My daughter worked for the town planting flowers this last summer. A family friend mentioned that whenever he saw her working, he wanted to honk but was afraid to give the girls the wrong impression. He said “How do you honk “Hey, I know your Dad” and not have it sound like “Hey, I think you are hot”?”
    We live in the mountains and I want a sign that says “Slow vehicles (RVs) use the pullouts!”

  19. Ha. Ha, ha! I am going to read this post to my husband. He has many virtues, but he is, unfortunately, a Yankee (from New Hampshire). And he just doesn’t get why I cringe whenever he honks at someone.

    “I’m from the South,” I tried to explain, “Where the only time people use horns, at least in my experience, is when they wish to convey the message STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING IMMEDIATELY OR WE MAY BOTH PERISH IN A FIERY CRASH. So when I hear you honk the horn, I think we may be about to perish in a fiery crash.”

    Honking to get somebody to move at a green light? I just don’t do it. I figure they’ll get moving eventually, so why escalate things with a bog ol’ angry honk?

  20. I have always wanted a horn that clears its throat for the zoned out at stop light scenario. A gentle “ahem” would get the job done nicely.

    My dad has a very old flatbed that the whole family uses for landscaping stuff, toting boat pieces, moving furnishing and the like. As these things happen, the truck has become something of a parody of its former self. Recently, he had an auuu-ooo-gha horn installed. Best part, he mentioned it to no one – it was really quite a surprise to me when I honked to attract my husband’s attention at the dump. I was the most popular chick at the dump that day – but then, really, when am I not – it is the dump afterall.

  21. You are much nicer than I am! I want a PA system in my car from which I can tell the other drivers exactly what I think of them… But then again, you’d have to understand what it’s like to drive in a big African city… the phrase “survival of the fittest” comes to mind!

  22. Genius.

    I have actually considered inventing a line of neon signs embedded in your dashboard (invisible until use) that say things like:

    “Using your blinker would be helpful to us all”


    “No WAY I’m letting you in when you know you were supposed to merge 2 miles ago”


    “You are an endangerment to everyone on the road”

    I don’t think there’s much need for the “bless your heart” part in Minnesota. On the road, the aggressiveness takes over. I actually have a post about passive aggression in Minnesota coming out this week! 🙂

  23. I never use my horn either, but my kids are always pestering me to, “HONK, Mommy!” In my small town, as sure as I honk at someone, it will be the preacher’s wife or the lady from the bank. Then, the next thing you know, the congregation would be praying for my anger issues.

  24. Huh… and I was actually pleased when I bought my current car that it had a “real” horn as opposed to the wimpy-sounding horn from the car I used to have (I used to call it the “golf cart horn”).

    Could it be that I have some anger issues in traffic? I don’t remember the last time I used the angry-sounding horn, and I’d love to have both. But I do love having one that sounds like I have a big car. The golf cart horn was on a sedan, and I now drive a two-seater; go figure.

  25. I miss Braums.

    My 3 year old thinks the horn is for the sole purpose of announcing, “I’m not in my carseat yet, but I will be, right after I push on the horn”

  26. I lurve this post. I really do. There was this guy yesterday who took a turn in the wrong lane and CAME ONTO THE ONCOMING TRAFFIC (not by accident, it was purposeful) and missed me by inches. That horn should be like: “the heck is wrong with you dude? Are you trying to get us both killed? I hope you are caught by the cops and given a ticket you will remember the rest of your life or have your license supended.” Oh, wait it is Orlando afterall. Good drivers are far too few.

  27. I love it! I definitely need the “Oops” horn. Sometimes when I visit my parents, my mom will have me take her car if I’m running an errand for her. And her horn is the WHOLE center of the wheel, where I rest my forearms in my car when I’m stopped. And it is so sensitive! I always accidentally honk at people.

    One time I was pulling out of the Target parking lot, wanting to turn right. The guy in front of me was waiting for traffic and couldn’t go. I heard someone laying on their horn and I couldn’t figure out WHO the heck was doing that… and then I realized it was me O_O The guy shot me the dirtiest look, and I started waving my arms and mouthing “NO, NO, SORRY SORRY SORRY”. He just laughed. An Oops Horn would have been ideal in that situation.

  28. I totally agree about the car horn- I never honk it and I never like for hubby to honk it and am thoroughly embarassed when he does.

    Hubby has a utility vehicle for camp work, and on that he has a horn that sings songs, quacks, and also has a bullhorn that you can talk through- it’s pretty fun. You could get one of those for your car. 🙂

  29. Oh! This is great! I LOVE this idea. I NEVER want to honk my horn – it just seems too rude for us Texas girls! The only time I honk it is if someone is about to run us over and doesn’t see us, but then, I’m like you – panicked and unable to find it! And if I do manage to find it, I always smile and give a little wave when they see me like, “Oops! Here we are – no harm done. Bless your heart.” I love the bless your heart. When we spent some time in seminary, there were people there from all over, and this one guy nailed us southerners on the head. He married a sweet little southern girl and rightly noticed that you can say anything about a person as long as you follow it with “bless their heart.” Such as, “He’s dumb as a board, bless his heart.” So true! It just takes some of the sting out!
    Thanks for the great message!

  30. So true. Just last weekend, a car pulled out right in front of me in 45 MPH traffic. Right. In. Front. Of. Me. I slammed on my brakes and tried to give an angry, long, loud, hard honk, but I was driving my husband’s car. Not used to it. I”m used to my big bully Suburban, not his Saturn.

    So I looked like a dork, beating on the steering wheel trying to find the horn and screaming in her direction.

    She gave me a nice little “oops! hee hee!” wave in her rearview mirror.

  31. Well, we really WERE separated at birth — I’ve wanted a three-stage horn for years!

    The closest I came was a brief period when I was driving my parent’s MG Midget routinely, back in college, and something went wrong with the steering column that deactivated the horn, which of course is a safety violation, so to get past it, they installed a secondary horn trigger switch on the underside of the dashboard.

    Like you can remember that when you need to blow the horn….

    But it’s a convertible, right? So it was easiest to just yell to the other person. “Hey! Look out!” “Dumba**!” (I would never shout such a thing!) or “Pardon me? Do you think you could go?”

    I also developed the “hit myself on the head dramatically with my hand to indicate that yes, in fact, I *do* know that I’m a moron” gesture during this time period….

    I’m with you on this, though. Last one to find a technical solution and patent it is a rotten egg?

  32. LOL! I’ve thought the same thing then figured I wouldn’t be able to work the variations, either. What about car alarms? Does anyone ever react to them? Especially when they are those wimpy horns….I did find a horn once for my husband’s favorite football team – I think it had at least 5 sayings, but I don’t recall anything so polite as ‘bless your heart’ or ‘have a nice day’ 😉 Thanx again for the laughs!

  33. For years I’ve been brewing this idea for pop-up signs that you could activate on appropriate occassions. You know – “Your blinker light is on and you haven’t made a move to turn for miles.” (well maybe more concise than that. But I like your horn idea. Let me know when it’s ready to go. Just toot or something!

  34. Linda, AM is a Southern Woman now. She will not “toot” in anyone’s presence.

    Loved this post, AM. (The only time I want the horn is when I’m in our car that doesn’t have one. I know! It got disconnected or something… Well, at least that cuts down on the accidental honking.)

  35. when i was in jr hi and high school my dad had an old dodge van with one of those musical horns…it played 76 tunes and they all worked…on my 13th birthday i had a slumber party and he drove a bunch of screaming giggling 13 year old girls around the strip where everyone cruised and we played every single tune at least twice.

  36. I just remembered that Brian Regan (comedian) has a hilarious routine about driving a car where the horn goes off at all these inappropriate times. It would be worth a look (and a laugh) to see if it is on U-Tube. He also has some great ones about going to the doctor and the emergency room that are almost as funny as some of your hospital/doctor stories. I’m still laughing about you scraping the soda off your legs!!!!

  37. I totally get this and I absolutely agree. There ought to be options on the horn. Option 1: Toot-toot for the friendly “ahem, green light:)”. Option 2: The diesel horn sound that says “YOU’RE VEERING INTO MY LANE! GET OFF OF THE CELL PHONE! YOU’RE GOING TO KILL ME AND MY CHILDREN!”

  38. Love it! I reserve my horn exclusively for the “Stop! You’re going to kill me!” moments, and then can never find it until after. You need both hands on the wheel during such stressful situations you know. It’s like when you’re so scared you can’t get the voice to scream, only car sized. So, I would like a YIKES horn, maybe pressure sensitive and built into the steering wheel so it sounds when I squeeze too hard.

  39. I’m with you! You are so right! My dad once had a rather large, manly truck that had the highest, squeakiest horn you can imagine. It was enough to give the truck a complex. . .Gee, now that I think of it, I’m not sure my dad ever used his horn after that. . .

  40. Like Jamy (first comment), I’ve thought of signs, but then I realized how many accidents would be caused by all of us trying to read each others’ signs. Especially because mine would be too wordy, too nuanced. (Donn’s would be in his favorite verb tense, the simple invective)
    You would love car horns in Mauritania! Usually they mean, “MOVE YOU DORK” but there was a complicated system of flashing lights used at night, wherein they would see you coming, turn off their lights, and then turn them on right at the last moment so you’d be blinded! It was great fun to play.
    In Mauritania, drivers sat with their hands on their horns like Jeopardy players, waiting for the least little hint of green, and then honked. I used to rev my engine; my goal was to move before I got honked at. I rarely if ever made it. In the time it took to move my foot from the brake to the gas, they’d be honking at me.
    And yes, I was often first in line at stop lights. THat’s cuz I tend to stop for red lights–I know, I know, holding up traffic behind me, but it’s so ingrained, I just couldn’t help it!
    This is such a long comment! Sorry. Bless my heart (am I using that right?), I just got to rambling.

  41. I love Braums. We have moved and now live far away from it, but there was a time, when my sign would have said…I’m pregnant buddy get out of my way, if I don’t eat a banana split I will kill someone and you might just be that person!! Ahh how I miss it! Thanks for reminding me!

  42. How many times have I not honked because I didn’t want them to think I was mad at them? I love your idea and think you should forward to the Auto Club, Detroit, Japan or whoever will do something with it!

  43. 3 Things:

    1) My horn is so pathetic I think people feel bad for me when I use it and get out of my way. It doesn’t scream things as much as sound like some animal dying.

    2) My hubby’s car once short circuited and would honk every time he made a left turn. He would just wave madly at someone so people thought he was honking on purpose. It was lovely at work when he had to make a left out of the parking lot everyday to get home. Classy.

    3) Don’t ever move to NYC or Chicago or frankly any big city up north cause I fear they would eat you alive. They honk as the oncoming traffic light is turning yellow. It starts out polite, but turns ugly quickly. Us Yankee’s love our horns. 🙂

  44. According to the driver’s ed handbook I studied back in the stone ages (ok, in 1982), one’s horn is for politely indicating a desire to pass another car. Of course, in the US, it doesn’t seem to be used in any way other than to say “HEY!!” (followed by “…IDIOT!” or “…YOU JERK!” or “…WAKE UP AND DRIVE” and often a waving middle finger).

    I really love the whole use of the horn here in Japan though. When I’m in bumper to bumper traffic (rare except when the Navy Base is letting workers out for the day), and scooters are dodging up and down lines of cars, and everyone’s temper is short…there is a lovely lack of honking. Even when you hear the squeal of brakes, as someone narrowly avoids an accident, there is no honking. Instead, I hear polite little peeps (those sounds made by barely touching the horn) when someone is saying “thank you for pulling over and letting me pass you on this far too narrow road.”

    I LOVE the fact that the Japanese seem to ONLY use their horns to say “Thank you!” — and each peep peep is usually accompanied by a bow from the driver as well.

    Maybe we can start a movement in the U.S.?

    p.s. — my car here is about the size of one of Sean’s Tonka trucks, and the horn is pitiful. My favorite sound though is the “beeeep-beeeep-beeeep” the car makes when put into reverse, as if it’s a bulldozer or Mack truck backing up, and not a wind-up toy!

  45. This post is too funny! And marvelously true.

    The comments are a hoot, as well, especially the one about the hubby with the horn that sounded at every left turn. ;^p

  46. am a bit late on this one as I am catching up on my ginormous list of blogs on bloglines!!

    What a very funny post (not to mention all those comments!!) and I simply couldn’t agree with you all more!!

  47. Cute.
    My boyfriend told me that all auto horns are in the key of F. Narrows it down a little. (and only he would know something like that!)

    I am starting a practice if you all might like to join me… maybe it will become universal. When some moron tosses their cigarette out the window while driving I honk at them. That’s just wrong and nasty and this is my way of scolding them, though I am sure they don’t know it!

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