They Should Make It: Silent Car Horns That Jolt Other Drivers

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Okay, so my idea for this week’s They Should Make It column is a system of car horns that, instead of making noise, jolt the driver in front of you with a little buzz that comes from a mechanism built into all cars’ driver’s seats.

Why?

For starters, it would make the streets a lot quieter. Let’s face it, most of the time when you honk your horn, you’re trying to get the person in front of you to do something. There’s no reason that people sitting in their apartments need to be alerted to the presence of an impatient driver outside their windows. This system would have a short range of, say, 10 feet. So, at best, you’d jolt the driver in front of you and maybe the driver in front of them.

How?

The system would use existing car horns that, when pressed, would trigger an electronic mechanism built into the seatback of the car directly in front of the horn. You could use currently-available personal area network technology similar to Bluetooth to connect everything. The result would be a non-violent buzzing, similar to one of those cheap massaging office chair covers. If you laid on the horn, the driver in front of you would feel the buzz for as long as you held down your impatient, angry, self-absorbed fist. If you popped the horn a few times, it’d result in a few gentle buzzes.

What’s In It For Car Makers?

Money. Car makers could generate an extra revenue stream by selling BuzzTonez (patent pending!), which would be like ringtones for cell phones. You’d only hear it inside your car, but you could set your horn to play laser or machine gun sounds over your car stereo whenever you hit it.

Arguments Against?

You’d have to implement the silent horns in all cars for the system to truly work as intended. I suppose you could roll it out gradually but buzz horn owners wouldn’t be able to honk at non-buzz horn owners. It’d have to become an industry-wide standard, though, for it to really take off.

Second, there are some advantages to an audible horn. Honking at pedestrians, honking as you’re sliding through an intersection during a winter storm, honking at your spouse from the driveway, etc. Perhaps there could be a backup audible horn but that runs the risk of turning right back into the system we have in place now.

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