According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the permissible limit of sound is 70 to 80 decibels but in Kathmandu, the level of noise easily reaches 100 to 120 decibels. In a bid to lessen noise pollution, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Department (MTPD) and Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) decided to ban the use of pressure horns except during emergencies starting April 14 (today) which is also the Nepali New Year.
This rule will apply to two-wheelers, three-wheelers and four-wheelers plying within the capital. Those found using the horn unnecessarily will be fined Rs 500 – 1500 depending on the case. However, vehicles will be allowed to use horns at turning points or at places where they cannot see vehicles coming from the opposition direction.
The Week spoke to some valley denizens to find out what they think about this newly imposed traffic rule.
I think that banning horns in their entirety, considering how a lot of drivers in town don’t follow other traffic rules, might not really work out. To start with, honking should be banned in school, college, and hospital areas. They disturb the peaceful environment needed by these places, sometimes even triggering heart attacks amongst elderly people at the hospitals. Before a complete ban, they should introduce other rules that make drivers aware about other people around them that the ban becomes redundant anyways. But, if this ban puts a stop to honking pointlessly during traffic jams, or big trucks blaring their horns on empty roads then I will be happy with the results.
I have a shop next to the Ring Road and there have been countless times I have been startled because of a huge truck honking at invisible vehicles on the road. There are also countless times there has been hours long traffic with constant blaring horns. I think the ban will at least help reduce noise pollution, even though it’s the air pollution that should be the primary concern. I hope that this ban means that I can at least go to sleep without a constant headache due to all the noise of the day. It should only be used when it’s absolutely necessary, and not to announce to a community that you, with your long pealing horn, are passing by.
I think that this is a good rule and I applaud the government on its efforts. There are people everywhere honking unnecessarily. You never know where the next blare of noise will come from, which often makes me prone to road rage. I’m sure there are many people like me who get angry while driving in Kathmandu. Noise pollution is stress that we can all live without, and it brings about problems in hearing as well as the heart from being too jumpy and with loud noise constantly surrounding us. I’m actually looking forward to reaching my destination without having to put up with people who think a few long presses of a button will clear a path for them during a traffic jam.
In Nepal, if there is a problem the best solution people come up with is always to suppress it. This ban is not sensible as people are not going to stop honking till they understand why they shouldn’t be honking in the first place. People need to realize is that pressure honking will not reduce traffic and will only increase agitation and irritation. The current scenario without effective pre-measures of making people aware about why no honking zone should be maintained and abruptly banning horns is not going to go down very well with the general public. People are creatures of habit and won’t stop doing what they have been doing just because there is now a ban on it. They will simply forget. Ban is never the solution. Awareness is.
I believe no honking rule is an excellent rule to implement in Nepal but I’m not sure if people who drive are ready for it yet. Keeping in mind people’s utter lack of responsibility and empathy, and their attitude of always having to beat the other vehicle, the government needs to understand that just imposing rules doesn’t work in the best of interest of its people. I, being a scooter rider, face many hassles every day. Everyone is in such a hurry that they aren’t willing to wait for even five seconds for another vehicle to pass, which could have prevented two hours of jam. For this to be an effective rule, it should have gone through a systematic approach. There should have been an awareness campaign of sorts before imposing a complete ban.
As a driver who needs to get around town quite often, I feel like this ban isn’t a very good one. There are times that you absolutely need to honk, for your own safety or for the others. There are motorists who don’t even look at their mirrors and will just turn or change lanes without looking and you absolutely have to use the horn to let them know they are about to hit you . Although I do agree that horns affect everyone, from children to the elderly, I believe that this is not the correct way to go about it. This even feels like they are just passing laws for the sake of it, instead of focusing on the real problems. I don’t think people care about horns right now, do something about the dust instead if you want the public to be happy.