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Indiscriminate honking is an abuse. Nevertheless in India, we love to honk. But our love for honking causes noise pollution, and noise pollution has been proved to increase hyper-tension, blood pressure, stress hormones, increased risk of heart attacks and disturbed sleep patterns.

The horn is essentially an alert system, a safety part within the features of a car. It's true, Indian roads are indeed chaotic but that doesn't justify the amount we honk, everyday! Or, has our excessive honking become part of our driving experience, simply a habit?

Behavioural Design vs Awareness

There have been several awareness-based campaigns carried out by different organizations and people across India, against honking, but none have succeeded at changing people's behaviour related to honking. That's because awareness doesn't always lead to action. Take for example, why smokers continue to smoke despite of danger warnings.

At Briefcase, we believe such behavioural change requires a different approach. Honking like other acts of behaviour, over time, becomes a habit. And habits are essentially automatic in nature, where one does not consciously think about their action. We realized that it was important to shift the driver from an automatic mode of honking as a habit, to make him think deliberate on whether the situation really demanded that he honk. We needed to make the driver conscious of the habit of honking, by giving him immediate feedback while the driver was still driving the car, so that the next time the driver honked, he would do it only when necessary, rather than honking indiscriminately.

This approach led us to create a 'Horn Reduction System' we've called Bleep that has proved to reduce honking amongst 100% of participants, by an average of 61%.

The Experiment

In our test cars, we put a simple red button in an easliy accessible place on the dashboard. The red button had a frownie printed on it. When the driver honked, the button beeped and flashed much like a seat belt reminder. To turn it off the driver had to press the button.

Bleep has been tested on manual and automatic geared cars amongst 30 people including men, women and paid drivers (chauffeurs) of private vehicles, over a period of 6 months travelling over 3800 Kms. The participants were given either of two cars - a manually geared Swift or an automatic Honda City, with Bleep fitted, to be driven for 4 days during the working week. Here's what happened: two days with Bleep off and the next two days with Bleep on: offered a quick comparison of the number of honks per Kilometer, in the control situation (pre-Bleep) with the experimental situation at hand(post-Bleep).

Bleep has been tested as triggering off, every time the horn is pressed, which is a stricter version of the reminder in the manually geared Swift car, as well as triggering off every third time the horn is pressed, which is a more lenient version of the reminder, in the automatic Honda City. In the first phase of the experiment, drivers were not given any information about the experiment. In the second phase they were simply shown how the system works.

The Results

We found a reduction in honking in 100% of the participants, wherein honks per Km reduced between 19% to 96% when Bleep was triggered every time the horn was pressed; (stricter version) and a reduction in honks per Km between 16% to 91% when Bleep was triggered every third time the horn was pressed (lenient version). These numbers prove that the reduction in honking relates to indiscriminate honking that drivers can do without.

Most of our behaviour is subconscious, and what people do is quite different from what they think they do. So while we all think that we don't honk much, all the participants of the experiment were surprised to hear about their total honks, and honks per Km statistics.

The Science behind Bleep

The science behind the effectiveness of Bleep is that it assists the driver in reducing honking by using a visual-cum-sound reminder. The driver gets instant feedback when the red light with the frown beeps and flashes when he honks (every third time in case of the lenient version), making the driver conscious about his inappropriate behaviour of honking and making him deliberate about when he really required to honk.

The driver, having to physically switch off the reminder further helps in persuading him to honk lesser. The frown on the device is designed to indicate that honking is a socially inappropriate behaviour. A study called 'Overcoming Intuition' done by Alter, Oppenheimer, Epley and Eyre has shown that frowning helps the brain reduce the reliance on intuition and activates analytical reasoning. Another research at the Stanford University School of Medicine has shown that peak brain activity (arresting attention) occurred during a short period of silence between musical movements, which is evidence that a sound that has a pause in between, makes you more alert. That's why a seatbelt reminder like sound was used as a beep.

Bleep comes with many other features like recording, displaying and transmission of vehicle data like number of honks, speed at time of honk, location, time, etc., inside the vehicle or at a remote location.

Indiscriminate honking is abuse, lets bleep out the abuse. Bleep - A horn reduction system. Patent Pending.

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