Do you remember when the whole lower half of a car's steering wheel used to constitute the car's horn? A car horn that was half the size of the steering wheel made it so much easier and fun to find and hit than locating today's microscopic, camouflaged little buttons. How are you ever supposed to find and use your horn in the nanosecond you have in case of a pending accident?
But it was a daughter's comment that made me ponder the changing role of yet another thing I thought would never change. She said something to the effect that a horn was mainly for communicating to another driver that you are angry with them. I was a little shocked.
When had a car horn become mostly an instrument to express road rage?
How were we communicating that to her? I didn't think of a car horn that way at all!
So I started to tell her all about all the old-fashioned uses of the trusty car horn. Isn't a horn primarily for accident prevention? To warn another driver that they are straying into your path, or in danger of hitting you? For such uses, the little buttons are woefully inadequate.
Unless you drive with your thumb or finger poised over the button, forget it. You can never find the horn that fast.
How else are horns used? Well, of course there is the friendly little "hello" honk. Then there is the romantic or flirting honk. Then there is the sentimental goodbye honk: one woman taps her horn lightly whenever she leaves her mother's home - a cute little ritual that somehow signals all is well between them. A goodbye honk is like a goodnight kiss: hard to do if you are mad at someone.
It is an unfortunate sign of the times if my kids have come to think of the horn as a thing you use to sound off at another driver.
So what are we teaching our kids by example and what they absorb from the rest of society if they look at car horns primarily as a tool of aggression? The increase in road-rage and the erosion of the old-fashioned accident-preventing car horn to the point where the horn is mainly an accent mark for flaring tempers is undoubtedly due to many factors.
But can we stem this trend by taking a look again at how we see other people? When we respect other people as God's creation, as people that God also loves, we move even our road etiquette up a little higher on the civility scale.
- Author Unknown