This is a new series I am planning to write and wait – I’ve already started writing. Riding on my way to the office this morning, I was suddenly taken aback by the loudness on the road. It was disturbing, to say the least. Needless to say, I was also adding to it to some extent. It was at that loud moment that the idea of this series was born. Honking and all that noise pollution combined becomes one of those things I wish would change. I am sure I can come up with more than a hundred such things which I wish would change. And hence, the series is called 100 Things to Change.
In the opening episode of this series, naturally, I would bring to focus the issue of noise pollution on our roads. People still find it difficult to understand that incessant honking does not move the traffic, especially not at a traffic signal. Several engines turned on at a traffic signal does not help the red signal to turn green. What we are doing, even though we are partly aware, is causing a huge influx of noise in the environment, which eventually comes back to haunt us. On a peaceful morning, when you leave your house for your office, you are in high spirits. You have no intention of rebuking your subordinate. You have no intention of swearing at your boss. After all, you are clear in your mind and you wish peace for everyone else around you. About a few yards away from your house, en route to your office, at the first junction that appears, you pause to look around and make a turn. Much to your dismay, the first violation of the day comes from right behind you. HONNKKK!!!
The noise around you on that particular morning is the first and strongest initiator for your stress. This may happen with or without your knowledge. But, yes, it does! The blood pressure shoots up with so much noise around us. For us to live as better human beings, the noise in our atmosphere needs to be under control. This would need a step-by-step approach with the involvement of the traffic authorities, public & private firms, individuals, transport operators et al. To be more precise, it would take the concerted effort of a large group of people to bring noise pollution under control. Honking and noise due to traffic are just some of the major causes for noise pollution. There are others such as construction activities, sirens, etc. However, the immediate concern is the road traffic which is the cause of approximately 60% of all noise pollution.
One of the ways of going about it would be regulations. I haven’t seen the incidence of honking in the Gulf countries as much as we see it here. What they have is strong regulations. But, regulations without consensus hardly serves the purpose. Hence, there needs to be a dialogue between the authorities and the public, on what level of regulations shall be brought in. If there is no public awareness on the matter, there would be a standstill on the discussions. Awareness, I guess, is where the real movement against noise pollution would begin. Our newspapers talk about a lot of things. I have hardly ever seen something written about noise pollution or its effects. For example, did you know that noise due to road traffic over a period of time brings down the average lifespan of a man by about 20%?
On a recent visit to Singapore, sitting in a car moving across the suburbs, I realized that I could hardly hear anything but the sound of the car I was riding in. For a person coming from India, I felt the surroundings were so quiet which felt nice. In India, even our suburbs aren’t spared from the long reach of noise. I feel ashamed that even I resort to honking when I am stuck at a junction. A little bit of thought would help me understand the fact that the traffic wouldn’t move until it could actually move. The horn is never going to help. I have never seen my father use the horn while driving in Oman, unless to avoid an accident or emergency. Maybe, one day, we will also learn to drive like that. I am no traffic planning expert. Hence, I haven’t included solutions here. I only know that the first step to change is awareness.
If you have an idea that can reduce noise pollution or dampen its effects, do write to me at email@example.com. The best ideas referred to me shall be published on this blog. Thank you for not honking today. In return, I shall lessen the frequency of my honking as well. Good Day! Good Night!