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Quit honking! Mumbai tests traffic signals that stay red if you hit your horn

Drivers in the Indian city of Mumbai seem to have the idea that if you honk your horn at a red signal, it’ll switch to green more quickly.

But the pointless behavior is only serving to fill busy neighborhoods with a wall of noise that’s not only annoying but also bad for your health.

Determined to quiet things down a bit, the city’s cops came up with an ingenious idea that forces drivers to wait even longer at the lights if they insist on honking their horns.

The so-called “punishing signal,” which was set up at several busy road junctions in Mumbai at the end of last year, uses decibel meters attached to traffic signal poles. When the meters register noise levels greater than 85 decibels, the countdown timer on the red signal resets to 90 seconds, keeping everyone stuck at the lights for even longer.

Local police, who describe Mumbai as “the honking capital of the world,” have even come with a snappy catchphrase for its innovative system: “Honk more, wait more.”

A slickly edited video (below) showing the punishing signal in action has been viewed more than three million times and received 89,000 likes since Mumbai Police posted it on Twitter about a week ago. It shows bemused drivers gradually realizing what’s going on, apparently prompting them to lay off the honking. The video ends with the line: “Feel free to honk … if you don’t mind waiting.”

A system that discourages endless honking is all well and good, but sorting out the road system would surely be a more welcome solution for Mumbai’s stressed-out drivers. The 2019 TomTom Traffic Index ranks Mumbai as the fourth most congested city in the world, with Bengaluru, also in India, ranked top. Manila in the Philippines is the second most congested city on the planet, with Bogota in Colombia ranking third. According to TomTom, America’s most heavily congested city is — you guessed it — Los Angeles, which shows up in 31st place in the global rankings. The least congested capital city is Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, according to TomTom.

The punishing signal is currently part of a trial, but it could become a permanent feature in Mumbai and other cities in India once the system’s effectiveness has been fully assessed.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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