The announcement of a “Horn free day” in Lagos recently, was received with mixed feelings by Lagosians including me. The day was observed on Wednesday 15th October, 2014 for the first time. The mixed feeling people had, was not because the initiative is bad but because of many other factors that have repeatedly worked against such laudable initiatives. For a lot of people, some important questions must be answered for there to be an assurance that Nigerian and in particular, Lagos Drivers can stop the improper use of the horn.
A major question is that of effective law enforcement. What has happened about enforcing the law against noise pollution in other places aside the road? Do all, especially uneducated public bus (danfo and molue) drivers understand why they must stop the improper use of vehicle horns? These questions and more need to be addressed if we must control noise to as low as reasonably practicable.
As a control measure against noise pollution, the horn free initiative is very necessary, recognizing the fact that the level of noise pollution in Lagos is very high, coming from vehicles, industries, homes and places of worship.
The fact that everyone desires a serene environment makes an initiative such as this laudable, especially when one remembers the high levels of the improper use of horns by public bus Drivers in the city of Lagos. It is no news that public bus drivers abuse the use of horns by honking just for fun like honking to the rhythm and beat of music from a vehicle’s stereo – an act that is enjoyed by many public bus Drivers in Lagos.
Why is the Horn Important Though?
Simply put. The use of Horn is important for the sake of Safety.
Then one may ask; when is it safe or proper to use the horn? From a safety point of view, it is proper to honk to warn a pedestrian who steps in front of you, honk at a driver who is about to cut you off. The horn can be used to warn other road users of on-coming danger, or make them aware of your presence for safety reasons when reasonably necessary. It also may be proper to honk at a driver who does not move at a traffic light when the green light comes on (if this is just a short and not long blasting of the horn).
On the other hand it will be wrong for a driver to continuously honk to the beat of his vehicles music like is very common with public bus (danfo and molue) drivers in Lagos. It will also be improper to honk to say hello to a friend, honk to express anger at another driver for being offensive, honk at a friend being interrogated by law enforcement agents and other such improper use of the horn.
Haven mentioned the above, it is important for government to enlighten and educate all drivers so as to ensure better compliance with this initiative when it is being enforced.
The Issue of Enforcement
Looking back at how effective enforcement of the law against noise pollution in Lagos has been, one can confidently say that it is a far cry from what should obtain. A few years back, the Lagos State Government came out with strong statements about how it was going to clamp down on any entity found to be involved in the act of noise pollution. Places of worship especially churches were a major focus, but the evidence on ground has shown that the Government and its law enforcement agencies have failed to enforce many safety laws they have made. At best, the laws and rules are only on paper.
The Lagos State Government must do more than just declaring a “horn free day”. Drivers and the generality of people must know why noise pollution must be reduced to the barest minimum. Otherwise, some members of the public especially the not-so-educated public bus drivers will continue to see the “horn free initiative” as one “illegal thing” as one Conductor (bus assistant) puts it.