The omnipotent honking in Vietnam

By Huy Thanh   April 10, 2023 | 07:59 pm PT
The omnipotent honking in Vietnam
Traffic on Hoang Van Thu Street in Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Binh District, August 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
While waiting at a red light, my natural reaction is to start driving when someone behind me honks. I would not even check to see if the light had turned green or not.

I have done the experiment on other people as well. While I waited at a red light and it was about to turn green, I would honk and some people before me would just move forward.

They reacted blindly to the honk, just as I did.

One time I drove through an intersection at a red light only to enter still flowing traffic from the other direction. Instead of checking the light, I had reacted stupidly to the very loud honking behind me while there was still five seconds before the red light would turn green.

I told myself to be more conscious, but sometimes my mind is still controlled by honking from behind.

Why does it happen not just to me, but also to so many other people that I've seen?

Honking was created to alert people to danger, to alert people that they are doing something wrong or disturbing. This sound has a mental impact – to make people feel what they are doing is wrong.

But many drivers in Vietnam have abused this sound, using it anytime they like. They honk when they want to pass, they honk out of frustration that some vehicles are blocking their way, they honk because they anticipate of a crash (instead of slowing down), and they honk when there are still five seconds before a red light will change.

In many developed countries, honking is hardly used, except for emergency cases or when one is very angry with another driver who has done something very wrong. In the latter case, it is used pretty much like swearing.

I hope we can be more polite with each other here, and stop pressuring others on the road with non-stop honking.

The opinions expressed here are personal and do not necessarily match VnExpress's viewpoints. Send your opinions here.
go to top