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Audi spreading 'honking disease'?

2012-03-27 10:55

WEARING OUT YOUR HORN: Count yourself lucky you don't have to deal with traffic in New Delhi. The image above shows a typical truck in India sporting a "Horn please" sign, indicating that a drive should hoot should they wish to overtake.

NEW DELHI, India - German automaker Audi makes special horns for its vehicles sold in India where local drivers hoot a great deal as they fight their way through chaotic traffic.

Michael Perschke, director at Audi India, explained: "Obviously, for India, the horn is a category in itself. A European horn will be gone in a week or two with the amount of honking in Mumbai. We do daily what an average German does in a year."


Perschke said the horns were specially made for the rigours of driving in India, a booming market where Audi is one of many foreign car brands competing for increasingly wealthy customers. "The horn is tested differently - two continuous weeks of honking," he promised.

Perschke added that many Audi owners in India had personal chauffeurs and that car interiors have been redesigned so that "you can be more in command from the rear seat".

Audi's decision, however, has provoked fury from anti-honking activists.


According to Rohit Baluja, president of the Institute of Road Traffic Education in Delhi, the horns are a menace on the roads and need to be stopped: "It's absolutely wrong for manufacturers to do this."

Harman Singh Sidhu, president of Arrive Safe, a road safety campaign group in India, said: "Honking in India is a disease that needs to be controlled, not encouraged. Honking is a big menace. It is causing mental torture and is a major cause of road rage."

Roads in India are mostly in poor condition, ranging from pot-holed major highways to dirt tracks in cities. Bullock carts, cows, rickshaws and bicycles  compete with cars and trucks for space - and of course the cows are untouchable.

About 134 000 people died on India's roads in 2010, according to the National Crime Records Bureau - about 366 a day or 0.01% a year of the country's population of 1.21-billion.

To put it in perspective, 14 000 people died (at least that's the official figure, some reckon it's double that because of poor hospital reporting) on South African roads in 2010, which is 0.02% of our 50-million population - twice that of India.

Perhaps we should use better, louder horns too...?

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