Honk Your Horn For Practicality

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Today, October 15th, is Lagos Horn Free Day and from the title of this post, I bet you think you already know where I stand on the subject. Walk with me.

I love scenarios. They make it harder to argue against sensible points and make bad points more apparent. Now, let’s paint a few scenarios:

You live in one of those nice, enclosed estates where the street lights (which somehow exist in the first place) still work and where, on a quarterly basis, they harass all residents for estate dues as they drive out of the estate gate in the morning. Like many people in Lagos, you leave your house really early in the morning, before the sun even comes up. As you drive down one empty, well lit street, you come across reverse lights. They are backing out of the open gates to a residence, right towards your car. You can see the head of the young lady in the driver’s seat swinging this way and that to use her rear mirrors but you can also tell that she somehow hasn’t spotted you. You have only a split second to alert her… and you begin flashing your headlights at her, even though you know the eager street light overhead has swallowed them. She runs into you. It’s Lagos Horn Free Day, so you didn’t honk for her.

Another scenario:

You hit the highway and you’re gunning up one of the numerous bridges when you hit a little ‘hold up’. After years of living and working in Las Gidi, you know now that every second counts and the smallest pocket of traffic could be the one responsible for making you late. You’re growing impatient. You take a peek around the avensus in front of you at the road in front of the danfo further up front to see if you can perhaps spot the reason for the traffic and… Behold, the road is free, bereft of vehicular or human traffic. The danfo is picking up passengers and is neatly parked on the road so no one can pass till it’s done. The avensus in front of you won’t toot his horn to let the danfo driver, his conductor and their passengers know that this is utter madness. You won’t toot yours to let the avensus know you agree. The passat behind you can’t honk to agree with something you haven’t expressed. No one presses their horn because it’s Lagos Horn Free Day.

Final scenario:

You arrive home late from work, tired. You point your car at your gate and pause for a moment debating what to do next. Typically, you honk and the gateman, who knows the sound of your horn like he knowns his mother’s voice from even a street away, scurries to throw them gates wide open like he’s overjoyed to see you. But today is Lagos Horn Free Day. So you throw your car in reverse and proceed to three-point-park right in front of your destination, so you can go knock on the gate or just open it by yourself. Stress.

And those are my scenarios.

I believe the Lagos Horn Free Day initiative is a laudable cause. It strives to reduce noise pollution in Lagos, which is undoubtedly an issue which needs tackling. I doubt there’s any real research out there but I’m sure if there was, we’d marvel at the amounts of cases of stress disorder, mental illness and depression that are direct results of an abnormally high level of noise pollution here. Something is being done and that is good.

However, I wonder at the practicality of driving in Lagos today without the use of your horn. It is widely known that Lagos roads are a place of pure insanity and a school of thought I wholly subscribe to says “Drive in Lagos like you’re the only sane one on the road”. I believe this is called ‘defensive driving’ – a form of driving which involves a mix of paranoia, unnecessary bravadoccio and frequent useless bouts of road rage. Sigh. Why should there even exist a thing such as defensive or offensive driving? Why? Only in Lagos.

Here’s how I see things… Honking is the severely temporary solution to a problem and has now, sadly, become a problem itself. Lagos Horn Free Day brings awareness to and attempts to tackle the resultant problem, which is all well and good, except that the initial problem hasn’t been effectively tackled yet. If this time, energy, funds, publicity, etc were channelled more towards curbing bad, nay very terrible behaviour in our driving, we would hardly need to drive same resources towards changing the adaptive behaviour we’ve cultivated.

Also, and rather sadly, it’s worthy of note that our best changes in road behaviour have come about as a result of perpetual policing and not mere education aka nicely suggesting. Cases in point are our better use of seat belts, the absence of hawkers and road side traders (in certain locations) and the more steady application of insurance policy. We are a hard headed people and the only way we tend to see reason is when it is enforced upon us. That’s just the hard reality.

I’d honestly hate to see such a good hearted initiative as Lagos Horn Free Day go from educative to enforced, especially if the previous issues haven’t yet been properly addressed (Lastma, I’m looking at you) but I also have to admit that that’s the only way this will become entrenched.

So in conclusion, my stance is: In Lagos, the use of horns is a very necessary evil… but only for now. I’ll try my best to adhere though, so help me God.

What’s your stance?

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9 comments on “Honk Your Horn For Practicality

  1. sekinatthomas says:

    Hello good morning, new to your site and have been enjoying your posts thus far, good job sir. I don’t know if I agree with horns or no horns but what I know for sure is this… Lagosians are about to have an interesting day. This is one scenario that keeps playing in my head, you see the BRT up ahead on the right side of you, you decide to quickly go through its left before he adversely turn there or just stay in the middle of the road, you’re half way through and the BRT driver out of his usual self assuredness decides to turn to his right and about to squash you and your car like an ant… Omo I go blast that horn. If I don’t, they’ll ask me why I didn’t when I saw the danger.

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  2. Nedoux says:

    Heck! I honk for the sheer fun of it these days, that piercing sound has an almost therapeutic effect on my mind and soothes my nerves when I’m crawling in traffic for 2.25 hours on that supposed “longest bridge in Africa”.

    Driving in Lagos without honking sounds (pun…I insist!) near- sadistic, the yellow and black striped ninjas will leave their autographs all over my car if I don’t hoooooonk their ever-elusive senses back into their brains.

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  3. opefasanya says:

    Had a lil debate on a friends TL about it… Frankly i believe its easier to go back in time than to achieve a “horn free day” in Lagos… or any other city in Nigeria for that matter. The horn has become necessary for dodging buses or Okada riders(depending on where you live). Its an interesting idea but its gonna take a long while for something like this to happen in Lagos… Kai even Abuja will have a hard time swinging this. lol

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  4. I laughed at the idea, I want a report of how well it goes.
    Btw, I enjoy your blog, so I nominated you for the “One Lovely Blog Award”! Please see my blog for details ☺.

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  5. Like you rightly pointed out, it has to be enforced. Lagosian are just too annoying when it comes to horn usage. yes your scenarios were logical but my dear, you need to see people making a Rythm with their horns. Blasting it when not even necessary.
    You can imagine people blasting horn at the turn of the red light to green then i wonder if their pedal is connected to their horn. its annoying.
    There was this long traffic on Allen, i was walking down and suddenly one able looking man in his fast car started blasting his horn, it was the pedestrians that cursed his brain into proper function. I agree horn are necessary, ofcoz that is why its part of the car but Lagosians use their horns when not necessary.

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  6. enajyte says:

    I’m kind of indifferent on this one. Let’s talk about full headlamps.

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  7. […] Yesterday was #NoHornDay and I’m proud to say I managed to honked my car horn only once all day. Just one tiny little tap which came out of nowhere before I could stop it. But it’s fine though. I said what I think about the #NoHornDay initiative in the previous post which you can read here. […]

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  8. bharyour says:

    I hardly use my horn. And I think that’s a good thing. Though I live in a sleepy Ghanaian town and don’t have to most times. But you know, the first scenario you painted is what horns were made for, no one would begrudge you for that. Even on a no horn day. I believe the initiative is just to make people consider what they are doing… And you see, you made it through the day with only one honk… Multiply that by 5 million and I’m sure you’ll agree that was well worth it.

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