It’s happened twice in the last couple of weeks. After parking my car in a busy parking lot, while walking to my destination, someone sets their car alarm at the very moment when I’m walking past their car. Car horns are meant to be loud. Truck horns are even louder. They are meant to be heard above traffic noise. As you might imagine, I nearly jumped out of my skin both times this happened.
It gets worse. No matter where I happen to live, there are always one or two people who live nearby and, arriving home from work in the middle of the night, blithely set their car alarm, generating at least one, and as many as three horn honks. One honk is bad enough in the otherwise dead silent — and mostly sleeping — neighboorhood. I can only imagine that the three honks are just the perpetrator’s desire to make absolutely certain that the alarm is set. Like pressing that lit elevator button repeatedly.
There are a few reasons why someone might inflict this kind of annoyance on innocent and unsuspecting people. First, there’s the old standby: they just don’t give a shit. They may have wondered if the noise might bother people, but they simply don’t care enough to do anything about it.
Second, they may find amusement or even joy in the prospect of bothering people. Don’t kid yourself; people like this exist. On the Internet, they’re called trolls.
But by far the most likely reason is plain ignorance. It seems that people simply don’t realize that they can change their car alarm configuration to disable the honking, and instead use an inaudible cue, such as flashing their car’s lights, to indicate alarm status. Depending on the manufacturer, there may be other options, such as a much quieter beeping sound.
This is a plea, to all owners of vehicles with alarms:
1. Unless there is a specific reason not to, please disable the horn honk when you set or disengage your alarm. Hint: there is no valid reason to leave the horn sound enabled. This Google search should get you started: https://www.google.com/search?q=car+alarm+disable+horn.
2. DO NOT enable your alarm when you are traveling on a ferry. It’s completely pointless, and the motion of the ferry will set off your alarm, repeatedly, over the entire trip. People who are unwilling (or unable) to leave their vehicles during the trip will be serenaded by your idiotic alarm the entire time.
UPDATE 2022Nov01: Like many other people, I’ve noticed that the worst culprits on the ferry are BMWs and Audis — basically, high-end vehicles. These things have “advanced” alarms that respond to movement inside the car and when the car is tilted to the side. And of course their alarms are incredibly, ear-splittingly loud. According to this article, many drivers simply don’t know how to disable these features. Terrific.
3. Consider disabling your alarm completely. Studies have shown that they are utterly ineffective anyway.