Extra loud horns, continuous honking for no apparent reason and musical horns seem to be looked upon as a boon for the vehicle owner but the bane of our society. A recent survey conducted revealed that Mumbai honks 18 million (1.8 crore) times in an hour while the situation across the country is no better.
These extra loud horns lead to numerous problems. Not only does it distract, confuse and startle persons on the road but also disturbs the aged and infirm in residential areas and on roads near hospital, schools and places of worship. Statistics show that it is these loud horns that leads to growing problems with hearing loss and damaged ear drums in India.
However, there seems to been some hope in sight with Indian roads likely to get less noisy. The Government is planning to reduce noise levels of horns on vehicles to under 100 decibels, a reduction of 10% from the current maximum permissible limits.
Abhay Damle, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had informed that as per Central Motor Vehicle Regulations, noise range of horns which is currently between 93-112 decibels will be brought down to 88 decibels with the maximum limit at just under 100 decibels.
Following several rounds of discussions with auto manufacturers and Society of India Automobile Manufacturers, all efforts are being made to reduce noise pollution. Times of India have also run a ‘No Honking’ campaign while Rohit Baluja, President of Institute of Road Traffic Education also stated that there is no proper enforcement though there is legislation against pressure horns and unnecessary honking.
Car owners in India take pride in having loud and blaring horns. There is also the problem of multitone horns which are an aftermarket fitment that have decibel levels which are much higher than the permitted decibel levels as per motor vehicle rules. In fact, a top official with a luxury automaker has stated that horns fitted on vehicles in India are of a higher degree as compared to those sold in global markets.
Even the National Green Tribunal has argued this issue of loud horns but enforcement seems to be an issue. Let us hope this new Government initiative will have a more positive impact in bringing down decibel levels of vehicle horns in India to more tolerable limits.