How can I mess with the unbelievable impatient drivers honking outside my window?
May 18, 2007 1:26 PM   Subscribe

What can I (legally) do to impatient drivers who honk because the light changed a split second ago, 12 cars up? Watergun? Water balloons? Some sort of sonic weapon that bursts their teeth?
posted by paul_smatatoes to Travel & Transportation (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Flipping the bird is still legal, right?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:30 PM on May 18, 2007

Get a Drive-e-mocion.
posted by alms at 1:31 PM on May 18, 2007

Go even slower.
posted by cobaltnine at 1:32 PM on May 18, 2007

Nothing wise. It doesn't even have to be you pissing off the one in twenty-thousand crazy bastards with a shotgun. Maybe you just piss of the jackass in en enormous pickup with a brushguard and he gives the back of your car a little love-tap. I know it's difficult, but develop some driving zen.
posted by kavasa at 1:33 PM on May 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

Smile to yourself knowing that they'll be felled by a stress induced heart attack far sooner than you'll go.
posted by jamesonandwater at 1:35 PM on May 18, 2007

Relax and remember that you're less of a jerk than they are.
posted by cerebus19 at 1:39 PM on May 18, 2007

Crush them with your unflappable serenity.
posted by normy at 1:42 PM on May 18, 2007 [7 favorites]

The safest thing to do is nothing. What I do is slow down.

Also, looking at them and slowly shaking your head with a deprecating smile can be momentarily satisfying (until they start tailgating you on the freeway and trying to shove you into a ditch, that is).

Whatever you do, don't do what this woman did. Waterguns and water balloons would probably also fall into the 'missile' category.
posted by frobozz at 1:48 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Check out
posted by ambrosia at 1:55 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

When this happens I can't really take it as being directed at me, because obviously I'm boxed in. It feels like the honking is directed at everybody and me being in front is just coincidental. So maybe a different attitude would help?

Now honking at me when I'm Car #1 and waited 0.5 sec to move, well, that's different.
posted by rolypolyman at 1:57 PM on May 18, 2007

How about letting it go? Getting angry or inciting others to anger when driving is a bad idea. Just ignore them.
posted by Kikkoman at 1:59 PM on May 18, 2007

one in twenty thousand? more like one in three (americans own guns). of course, how many of that 30% are crazy and or bastards is uncertain.

any sort of projectile, water balloon, mcmuffin, what have you, could be construed as battery at the absolute very least. lets say you did that and the other person wound up crashing their car and killing themselves or another person - you could probably be charged with murder.

and flipping the bird isn't even legal in states like mine with 'two hands on the wheel' laws.
posted by tremspeed at 2:03 PM on May 18, 2007

From the "outside my window" in the title, I'm thinking the poster is not in his/her car, but is hearing this all day from his/her office or home. Which would be especially annoying.

Not really sure there's anything one can do, though. Here in Chicago we have the Horn as Doorbell people that can't be bothered to get out of their car to let someone know they've arrived, and instead lay on their horn at 6 in the morning. Grrr.
posted by misskaz at 2:04 PM on May 18, 2007

What can I (legally) do to impatient drivers who honk because the light changed a split second ago, 12 cars up?

How long have you lived in New York? Seriously, when I first got there, I thought it was bizarre, but then I got used to it and realized that the guy wasn't honking at me, he was honking so that the guy 12 cars up would start to move, because traffic is ass and every little bit counts. That is what drivers in New York do, they honk when the light turns green. What can you legally do to them when they do this? You can ignore them.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:07 PM on May 18, 2007

You should actually thank them! Now, due to them, the street light has an acoustic signal for the green light; you do not have to keep staring to catch the change from red to green. Of course, if you rely on the acoustic signal your reaction speed goes down even more than before, but hey, you are not the one who is in a hurry!
posted by MzB at 2:08 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:30 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Redirect your windshield washer spray to shoot Over the windshield.
posted by mrleec at 2:40 PM on May 18, 2007

Fantastically? Narrow beam HERF gun. Kill their car.

Practically? Do nothing. In the great scheme of things, a honk and an impatient driver fall into the really, really, unimportant category. You can't control their actions, but you can control your reaction.

Think about trees, girls/guys, dogs, music, get my drift.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 2:49 PM on May 18, 2007

Well, I can tell you that the following was ineffective:
The night before the 1994 World Cup final, I was headed home from a get together with friends, down around the University of Toronto. It was about 2:15am or so, which meant taking the all night Yonge St. bus all the way North.

I had to wait at the stop, College and Yonge, for about 30min. It normally wouldn't have taken so long, but there was a traffic jam of cars waving Brazilian and Italian flags, and hundreds of people on the street. All of them honking horns, blowing whistles, and screaming madly and excitedly.

Then suddenly a big splash of water, ten feet in front of me. I had no idea where it came from, but I didn't really think about it. Then a few minutes later, splash again. This happened several times at even intervals. It finally dawned on me, that is about the amount of time it takes to fill a bucket with water!

One of the residents of the condo on the south-east corner of Carlton and Yonge must have been upset by the noise. This person was poring buckets from their balcony, three or four floors up, down onto the loudest of the cars.
Here, for the rest of the story :P
posted by Chuckles at 3:01 PM on May 18, 2007

Your question reads to me like you're being driven nuts by jackwipes honking all day and night on the street outside the window of your home, right? That's how I read it, but considering the number of responses that assume you're driving, you may want to clarify.

You're in NYC, so have you tried complaints to 311? You may be able to get some noise enforcement going. You may also be able to lobby to get your street posted as a no honking zone., especially if you team up with other residents.

I'm no stranger to this problem, but I have (slowly) adapted to it. I have a window out onto a major street in Queens.

I would NOT recommend taking any direct action against honkers. I know someone who tried egging some cars that were honking once, and one driver went charging into the egg thrower's building with murder in his heart. Nothing came of it but a narrow escape, but you really would just be putting yourself at risk for no possible gain.
posted by ursus_comiter at 3:07 PM on May 18, 2007

Well I tend to be a real hothead but I would definitely go with the folks who advocate mature serenity.
I just think of all the times I have been driving home from a strip joint and find myself stopped at a stop sign waiting for it to turn green and I realize I just should not judge.
And starting crap with an impatient honker may escalate things to a level you may not be comfortable with.
posted by Iron Rat at 3:16 PM on May 18, 2007

yeah, i'm indoors, not in a car, and i happen to have been born in the city, so it's not just a matter of telling me i'll get used to it. 311 won't do anything in this case. sigh.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 3:36 PM on May 18, 2007

I remember on Houston St., on the south side around Ludlow or Essex, there was a sign warning people not to honk unless it was an emergency, or else you'd get a fine of $300 or such. Maybe you & a lot of your neighbors could petition the city for a similar sign near your apartment?

I lived on the very noisy corner of Allen & Houston for five years, four flights up, and the honking drove me nuts the first month; then I stopped hearing it.
posted by lisa g at 3:46 PM on May 18, 2007

(above comment references NYC, where the poster is)
posted by lisa g at 3:46 PM on May 18, 2007

Can you do anything to soundproof your house?
posted by joannemerriam at 3:47 PM on May 18, 2007

What can I (legally) do to impatient drivers

Just get out of my way, damnit!

Seriously, there's a time dilation effect in play here. When you're in the first car and the light changes, time slows down, but when you're in another car, it speeds up. I wouldn't be surprised if what you see as 0.5 seconds is 5 or more seconds. I'm in that other car quite a bit, and driving through the city can be very frustrating; if you don't get through the light soon enough, you'll get stuck behind the next light.

So, my advice is to pay more attention to the light, and not to get too upset with honkers. Just relax and ignore them, even if you are taking longer to get going than they'd like. Don't provoke them, because absolutely no good can come of that for either of you.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:49 PM on May 18, 2007

move. i'm not kidding. it won't go away--unless you can afford to soundproof your windows (a couple grand per window), you may just be happier living somewhere else. i moved from a loud corner in park slope to a quiet one, and man, even if the apartment was not as nice or convenient, i was SO much happier.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:25 PM on May 18, 2007

Yeah, this falls into the same category as an apartment I had overlooking the Highland exit off of the 101. Several times a week there would be a backup of traffic on the ramp, and someone would come flying over the crest of it thinking there was no traffic, and screeeeeeeeeeeeeeech-Bang! -- Right into the stopped cars.

This was an unbelievable catalyst for stress. It got so bad I couldn't bring myself to spend much time in the living room (closest to the traffic) and when I heard even the faintest tire screech I would completely tense up.

So I moved. My life got much better.
posted by davejay at 4:40 PM on May 18, 2007

If indeed this is outside your house, see if you can get the local authorities to install (or let you install) a sign that says "No Honking Except for Emergencies" and lists a monetary fine amount. Better, complain repeatedly that you see people running that light and many communities will now mount a traffic camera there to rake in the revenue. Nothing works better than a known camera to enforce good behavior. Even in NYC such signs and notices of cameras are noted for reducing the urge to sound off or otherwise drive like a nut. People feel unwatched and invulnerable in their cars. A hint of oversight often changes behavior drastically.

If you're in your car and someone honks behind you, everyone saying don't do anything is right. This is a common cause of "road rage" incidents, because people are moving slowly enough to take their mind off driving and focus on getting angry. And you can get boxed in to a very bad situation.

That is, unless you've got one of these.
posted by spitbull at 4:43 PM on May 18, 2007

OK, I assumed you were in the car in front. Please disregard my previous response, and get soundproof windows.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:45 PM on May 18, 2007

I live - and work - right on a street-level subway line. Its horn is very loud and it honks frequently at cars and pedestrians who are attempting to cross the tracks and did not see the train coming. I've gotten used to it and I don't even really hear it anymore unless the train driver really leans on the horn. I sometimes sleep with a fan on at night which helps with a bit of white noise, too.
posted by sutel at 4:59 PM on May 18, 2007

Please disregard my previous response

No, don't disregard it. It's still valid. Get out of the way. Do everything you can reasonably do to speed up traffic and encourage others to do the same. They're not honking at you, and you don't need to honk at anyone else. Neither do you need to resort to attempt to passively-aggressively re-educate others about their honking. Just step on the gas pedal and go.
posted by frogan at 5:20 PM on May 18, 2007

Get a clown horn. Honk back.
posted by mendel at 6:20 PM on May 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

What can I (legally) do to impatient drivers who honk because the light changed a split second ago, 12 cars up?

Pass it on.
posted by kindall at 6:21 PM on May 18, 2007

alms says Drive-e-mocion.

I think devices like that (that display text to the driver behind you) are illegal because they can be a distraction to the following driver. (Just imagine flashing the message “Fuck you and the piece of shit you seem to be proud to drive”)

Scary story: I was once at a stop light on a minor street in LA when the guy behind me starts madly honking his horn so I turn around to look at him. I figure something must be badly wrong so when I face forwards and see the light is green I cross the intersection and pull over. The guy pulls up behind me and I expect him to tell me that my gas tank cap is on my trunk or something like that. Instead my guess was that he was heavily coked up and maybe embarrassed about it – he got out of the car to tell me that he was honking because the light had turned green.

With that much coke in him the situation could have turned out much worse.

posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:40 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Turn off your car and turn on your blinking warning lights... that's what I do... Anyone's car can breakdown right? and that's legal...
posted by MrBCID at 8:03 PM on May 18, 2007

Blast your radio loud enough to drown them out.
posted by brujita at 11:28 PM on May 18, 2007

Some days, I feel like printing out you park like an asshole fliers and leaving them on people's cars. But then I worry about karma... what if there ever comes a day when my parking job isn't perfect? (joke, people.) How would I feel finding one of those on my car? (The answer depends on what kind of day I'm having.) What if someone sees me put that on a car and tells the car owner... my car could get keyed or worse.

I try to just shrug it off and forget about it, but if it's something really egregious I'll come home and vent to someone about it.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:29 AM on May 19, 2007

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