By Jeanine Botta
Since my update in the Fall 2013 newsletter, there is some news related to the effort to bring about elimination of horn based lock alert and related technologies – some positive, and some disappointing. In 2014, we learned that Honda, Hyundai, and Nissan have been transitioning many of their models from the horn sound to use of the electronic tone, and silent locking with flashing lights is another option. It is possible that the electronic tone will eventually be featured in all models.
Many people consider silent locking the gold standard, but automakers are unlikely to stop featuring some sort of sound. Having no sound at all would drive some consumers to obtain a horn based alert in the aftermarkets. The average consumer tends to accept the sound mode that comes factory installed with a car.
There is a positive development from Canada. Early in 2014, the Québec Minister of Transport requested that the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec add a section to their web site addressing horn based lock alert technology. The section is titled
Sound Warning Devices
The post was in response to a written request from a resident of Québec. Six months earlier, I had spoken with the letter writer, who believed that writing letters would be a waste of time. The Quebec government does not set
transportation policies, but its acknowledging the issue and willingness to advocate for awareness and consideration is commendable.
In January of 2014 I began collaborating with Cullen Ruff, a physician and professor of medicine living in Virginia, who wanted to create a public service announcement (PSA). Initiating a focussed project called Silence the Horns, we produced the PSA , launched it on YouTube at here and created Silence the horns website
which serves as a clearing house for letter writing efforts.
Cullen and I met with a member of Congress in March of 2014 to discuss the project. Noting that lobbying for congressional support would be unrealistic at that time, the congressman added that if a member of a congressional committee had not received complaints from his or her constituents, he or she would be unlikely to respond to requests to review our issue. After this, Cullen met with a chief of staff from another congressional office. The legislator emphasised that although committee positions are national, individual members respond mostly to their own constituents’ concerns. We decided not to pursue a legislative approach at the time. We believe that the direct approach with the auto industry is best, and continue to focus on communication with industry stakeholders, regulatory agencies, and consumer advocacy groups.
We strongly encourage anyone who has not done so to visit Silence the horns website and write to suggested letter recipients, including those in Canada and those in the US.
This page is kept current and may have more focussed writing campaigns listed toward the top. If you have written already, please check the site for updates, and write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or want to view sample letters on a private web page.
Even as some automakers are moving away from horn use for lock alert, others are
adopting use of apps that "honk your horn from your smartphone" even though silent locating technology is available. This is a critical time, and we need to build on the momentum created by automakers that have moved away from horn use. It is not a given that the rest will follow their lead, especially without public feedback. The Silence the Horns project will remain active through June of this year with the goal of locating regulatory and consumer advocacy groups willing to share ownership of this issue.