Thunderclaps in Your Ears

There is one rather disturbing aspect of road noise on the rise. It is that the soundscape in India has drastically changed in the last ten years alone, never mind my growing years. Post liberalization, and 10 years post that, with increasing affluence,  there are plenty of SUVs on the road. While engines have grown quieter (and dangerously so – I can’t hear cars creep up behind me on the road!),  horns have grown increasingly louder. It is not unusual to hear an SUV honk at 110 dB to a guy standing just 2 feet away.  Yes, on some roads in India,  cattle, people, cyclists, SUVs still go shoulder to shoulder.  Just to give you an idea of how loud 110dB can be, imagine standing next to a jet engine, or in a loud discotheque. Of course, imagine that you stood only for 2 seconds, because that’s how long the horn lasts. But I must confess, at my seemingly young age, my ears ring for 5 seconds after I experience such inconsiderate honking.  To make matters worse, there are articles like this :  http://jalopnik.com/5896859/audi-is-designing-extra-loud-horns-for-india

Now this rant is entirely based on that article I read. I am assuming it is true. I am hardly feeling rational and sane right now, but I’ll attempt to be. So I understand the need for a foreign automobile company to design mechanically sturdier horns for the Indian scenario, given that lane discipline is rare and horns are a necessity here. But why “louder” horns?. I think the engineers who came up with this thought are shortsighted, to say the least.  I really wish to go honking near their homes with this very horn they’ve designed. 

Someday in the not-so- distant future. I will move a petition, with the eventual hope of seeing it implemented as a legislation – to force automobile manufacturers to have two different volumes for horns built in. Just like high beam and low beam for lights. Shouldn’t be difficult for them to do this, and it would make our cities that much quieter. All this hullabaloo wouldn’t be necessary if temporary deafness was an immediate effect. The sad truth is, it only sets in later.

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