If our honking systems were linked to our debit cards, we’d all be bankrupt by now.
Today, road traffic is the biggest cause of community noise in most cities, and typically noise levels increase with higher traffic volumes and speeds.
Honking is almost a natural instinct for any driver. On an average, the horn is sounded at least 5-10 times a day. Last year, a study named two Indian cities amongst the top 10 cities with worst noise pollution – Delhi at the second position and Mumbai at the fourth. Another study found that Puneites honk 1 crore times a day.
The horn, whose purpose was originally to alert another and prevent accidents on the road, has now become a national menace. The amount of noise pollution generated by this seemingly insignificant device is unparalleled.
Environmental noise exposure is responsible for a range of health effects, including increased risk of ischaemic heart disease as well as sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment among children, annoyance, stress-related mental health risks, and tinnitus. Despite this grave reality, noise remains the most underrated pollutant of all time, but fortunately a change is on the horizon.
The Regional Transport Office (RTO) and Pune traffic cops are exploring ways to reduce noise, one of them being the introduction of a ‘No Honking Day’ every week, starting September 12.
Countries all the over the world are trying out solutions to inculcate this civic sense amongst people. This includes bans, law enforcements, rallies, campaigns and everything that could contribute to a positive movement up the noise pollution scale.
However, the last mile to eliminating noise pollution is the actions the citizens take themselves. Government restrictions such as bans and fines often prove ineffective if the individuals for whom they are meant are not convinced. This is what makes this initiative particularly appealing. The idea is to observe a No Honking Day on 12th September rather than making it a compulsion.
My expectation is that the one day experiment will truly be a success and more people will voluntarily reduce honking from the day after out of a desire to live in a peaceful and harmonious city.Perhaps then we can look at a day when horns wouldn’t be needed at all.
Let’s hope after 12th September, we get a tad bit closer to that day.
( Dr Ajeenkya D Y Patil, Chancellor of Ajeenkya DY Patil University and Chairman of D Y Patil Group )