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Driving Skills 101: 5 Types of Horn Sound for Dummies

For some, this is still not enough – picture source:

Let’s talk about car horns…

It’s there all the time, same as the indicator lever but do you know how to use it? More importantly, when to use it? Have you thought about these elementary questions before? If you are real Malaysian driver, these questions are the last things in your mind.

I know I am wasting my time here but I will blog about it anyway.

I was out for a birthday party last week and as I was returning back home sober (yes, rare moments there), I came across a car which was cutting across from outer left lane into mine – that is cutting through 3 lanes, all without putting up the indicator lights (ya, that proves that the driver is a real, true blue Malaysian driver, doesn’t it?).

As I was too fast to slow down (so obvious of me there) and there was a car on my right lane (there always to be one at the wrong time), I did what any driver would have done – I slammed on my horns (whilst attempting to slow down in case the nutcase actually cut into my lane at the last minute).

I kept pressing on horns (mind you, it is not the standard Iswara horn but twin Hella “BMW” horn) and was surprised to note the car stopped in time from entering my lane (I was indeed surprised because most of the time, these idiots will just cut to the lane thinking that should anything bad happens, the Malaysian made flimsy-looking car will protect them. Ya right!).

I sped up, continuing to blast my horns as I was overtaking the car (yes, I was nasty and pissed off at the same time). Once I have overtaken and comfortably on my way home, I noted the car sped up and overtook me on the right. Great, it looks like another idiot wanting to challenge me. As the car was overtaking me, I saw the driver and the driver was staring at me.

He looked very unhappy being horned. I of course, being used of getting such looks from the idiots on the road, looked back “angrily” (don’t ask me how) and started to wind down my window. The driver seemed panicked and sped off. Maybe the driver misunderstood my intention of winding down the window.

All I wanted to do is to wind down the windows and show him my middle finger. That’s all. No violence act whatsoever.

Anyway, I went back and thought about it. Actually I was thinking how funny it looked when the guy panicked. Then I thought about the car horns. Perhaps I should list out some rough guidelines as to when and how to horn. I mean I have horned people before and some took it as good warning (good drivers), others disregarded as a mere nuisance (typical Malaysian drivers) and a few took it as a challenge to their manhood (real nutcase and road bullies).

So, running through my past experiences, I compiled a short guide on car horn:-

1. A small tot from the side (version 1)

This means there is something wrong with the bike or cars, you better stop and check.

I gave small tot once to a couple on the bike when I noticed the lady’s sari was inches away from bike’s rear wheel. All I got was an angry look from the husband. Man, the lady was not that pretty for my standards and I could have ignored and drove away but somehow I was cool that day.

I wind down the windows and pointed at the sari. Only then and after couple of seconds of pointing, the idiot husband got the message.

2. A small tot from the side (version 2)

This means I know you – hei, buddy, let’s stop and go for a chat over teh tarik. I guess it is a Malaysian thing lah to “angkat tangan” whenever one sees a buddy on the road.

I have seen bus drivers do this even though they face each other like 20 – 30 times a day. Sometimes, a small tot does the trick too.

3. A small tot from the back

This means you are hogging the fast lane and there is a faster car inches away from your backside.

That car just wants you to move away a bit so that the car can overtake you safely and be on its way. You can hog the road after that.

4. A short poooom from the back

This means that despite of several tots, the car at the back is guessing that you may some difficulty in hearing (especially when your car radio is up to the max), so a short poooom is given, just to make sure that you are aware of the car behind you.

Often the short poooom is followed by couple of high-beams from the headlights of the car at the back.

5. A long poooom from the back

This means that despite of several short pooooms, you continue too hog the fast lane and the car at the back is getting impatient.

So, if you could not hear the earlier tots & short pooooms, this long poooom should knock some senses into you. By this time, the headlight from the car at the back is permanently on high-beam.

6. A long poooom from the side

This means that despite of several tots & pooooms, you continue ride as if you owe the road. The car at the back managed to find enough space to overtake you from the left and horns to let you know that the next you do the same, there will enough tots given before the car behind decides to overtakes whether there is enough space or not.

In other words, be prepared to be squeezed out or mown down (unless of course it is a big truck)

So, you now know how to horn and importantly when to horn…a short tot or a short poooom or a long poooom. Depending on whether you are the car in the front or the car at the back, you decide on the next move.

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