By Jeanine Botta
Recently a friend asked, “If you move to a quieter apartment, will you continue to work on this?” She was referring to my effort to address auto technology that uses horn honking to confirm that car doors are locked and secure. I didn’t have to think about my answer. “I will absolutely continue to work on it,” I said. I didn’t clarify the fact that my apartment was quiet, except for the day and night horn honking announcing that people had parked their cars. In between horn sounds, days were relatively peaceful and nights were quiet.
I‘ve thought about that conversation many times. With a dozen top selling cars using horn lock alert, as new cars continue to replace older cars that lock silently, we will experience more unnecessary horn honking with each passing year. Recently, Nissan launched an ad campaign introducing “Easy Fill Tire Alert”, a feature that causes the horn to honk any time a tire begins to run low on air. This feature is one of many that now use horn honking to indicate a non-emergency event. As non-emergency horn features multiply, it will become ever more difficult to find places that are free of the constant backdrop of horn noise.
In November 2011, I created a Change.org petition to address lock alert honking technology. Five months later, I closed the petition, which had not succeeded. For a while I worked on a form similar to Capwiz advocacy campaign forms. But soon I realized that successfully addressing an entity as complex as the auto industry will not be accomplished through a petition or a form.
The Green Car Integrity Project continues where the petition left off, with the goal of convincing the industry that technology that contributes to noise pollution is unhealthy and unsustainable. Another goal is to educate people about the benefits of switching to silent or quieter methods of locking and securing cars. The early focus is letter writing.
Visit the website for more information. If you would like to participate but don’t quite see yourself sitting down and writing twenty letters, sign up for action alerts by writing to me at . If you don’t have internet access, call me at (718) 409-2138 during early evening hours or on the weekend and provide your name and address. Action alerts will ask you to write to a particular industry leader within a given time frame, and provide brief background information and discussion points. Letters are preferred, but I may be able to provide e-mail addresses in some instances.
I recently attended the 5th International Environmentally Friendly Vehicle Conference, which included sessions focussing on energy efficiency, renewable energy, the electric grid, biofuels, consumer acceptance, and many other topics. Noise was occasionally mentioned in the context of traffic and congestion. The fifth conference was the last in a series, but there will be similar forums in the future. Our concerns have a place in any discussion about environ-mentally friendly vehicles and vehicles in general. There are many, many people who are unaffected, unconcerned, and uninterested in addressing this particular noise issue. But there are others who will listen, and those are the only ones we need to concern ourselves with for now.