Mumbai Devises Amusing Tech for Shutting Up Flagrant Horn Honkers
Interconnecting sound sensors and traffic signals—the Mumbai police trolls its own honkin' residents.
We've all been there. The car in front of you is moving too slowly, seemingly for no reason. Is it pulling over? Looking for a specific house number? Why is that damn traffic light still red?! Your blood pressure rises, and your hand moves toward the center of the steering wheel, ready to press on the horn to release all that pent-up rage. "Do it," your mind screams, as the red mist lowers over your vision . . .
In Mumbai, India, this behavior might not bring you the traffic relief you so desperately seek, thanks to a new police program aimed at curbing one of the city's most incessant background sounds: blaring car and truck horns. Per The New York Times, which covered the new police tactic, this racket doesn't let up—ever. Apparently, drivers there will even honk at other drivers waiting at red lights, as if doing so might make the light change quicker—meaning that, even without other moving targets to honk at, Indian drivers will honk at nothing less than legally sitting still at an intersection.
The local police, in a fit of incredibly troll-like cleverness, has devised a setup for curtailing at least that last annoyance. It's being rolled out in a pilot program hilariously dubbed "The Punishing Signal" that links certain traffic signals to sound sensors that listen for the honking of horns (or at least sounds exceeding 85 decibels). If it detects honking when a light is red, the system will ensure everyone stays stuck—at least until everyone lays off their horns. Signs near the intersections with the system note that honking will delay the changing of the light—they read: "Honk More Wait More"— but most drivers failed to notice those. We probably would, too, in Mumbai's incessantly chaotic traffic, in which cars, rickshaws, bicycles, and trucks tangle regularly and without much order with themselves, pedestrians, and other obstacles.
To ensure widespread public awareness, the local police filmed the system in action back in December and put it on social media, where it quickly went viral. In it, a bunch of confused, angry people freak out when a traffic light stays red entirely too long.
Did it work? The police think so, although the social media response might be greater than that from the streets where the program was actually in effect. Even so, that viral video has other municipalities throughout India interested in adopting the tech on their own streets. If they do, maybe, just maybe, your next trip to India might be slightly quieter.