Why do cars have horns?

What is the non-jerkhole activity for the horn on a car? A 7-year-old posed this question to me, and the only explination I can think of is that, in the event of a close-cutting driver, I could advertise my presence and avoid an accident. That is so weak.
Someone please know the answer for this.

Well, it’s a convenient way to signal your prescence, including giving a quick double-tap to alert traffic when you’re passing through an intersection and your light is yellow, but you can’t stop in time and don’t want to get T-boned.

It’s meant as just another signalling device, no different than your various light signals, but it’s routinely used to convey anger and is a staple of schmucks worldwide.

And, this is weak, how…?

Sounds like a good reason to have a horn, to me.

from the UK Highway Code:

It’s a warning sign.
The german traffic laws are very similar to the UK’s regarding using horns.

You use it to alert Volvo drivers that they are not the only ones on the road :smiley:

My driver’s ed teacher taught us:

There are only two sounds that make any driver look up and pay attention. One is squealing tires. The other is a horn. Which one are you going to use when you are stopped at a red light and somebody is coming up behind you fast, and chatting with (and looking at) the person in the passenger seat?

A horn’s intended use is to say “here I am.” It is not intended for its most frequent use, saying “I am unimpressed with your driving.”

I got to use it once when this guy came out of a parking lot the wrong way. There wasn’t a break in the median for eastbound, so he chose the far westbound lane, which I happened to also be using at the time, and somewhat selfishly didn’t want to share.

One of the few times I’ve been endangered in a vehicle by someone’s actions other than my own. :smiley:

Because their bells don’t work.
Oh, wait…

The horn is effective for getting a deer to snap out of her “deer in the headlights” trance.

It’s also good for indicating that the user is horny. (Or, in some cases, a horny honky.) :wink:

Even if a horn gets you out of one potential traffic accident, it’s paid for itself many times over.

It’s also useful for snapping pedestrians out of their daze. True, they have the right of way, but I’d rather piss someone off by honking at them than by running them over.

The Wisconsin Motorist’s Handbook (pdf file, sorry) encourages people to use their horn only as a warning of danger*, and among other situations already noted here, says one should give a light tap on the horn when coming to a spot that is hard to see what’s ahead exiting an alley that is hard to see out of (lest a pedestrian step into your path from around the building you’re passing by), going around a blind curve, or topping a very steep hill. They also note, as AskNott mentioned, that if you see a deer near the side of the road, you should slow down and honk the horn, to warn the deer of danger and have a better chance to react should it leap out in front of you.

It’s not just intended for warning car drivers, but also cyclists, pedestrians, and even animals.

  • Somehow I suspect that, “You’re driving like a jerk and making me angry,” wasn’t what they had in mind.

Horns are for when you pull into the alley between the apartment buildings and you want your friend to come out, because you’re too dim to realize how annoying it is and you can’t seem to figure out how to use that “telephone thingy” on the gate that allows you to call your friend directly. :rolleyes:

AskNott’s first sentence is a good one. The vast majority of this country is still, I believe, relatively rural. I used to live in a totally wooded, rural area, and had daily close encounters with animals on or near the roadway that posed a serious risk of damage to life or property. Blaring the horn at them would most often startle them into running the other way.

In places such as India, drivers use their horns continuously to alert people, pedestrians, cattle, etc., to their presence. The big trucks on the road (“lorries”) usually bear the legend “Horn Please” on the rear, meaning people in smaller conveyances should alert the truck driver to their presence.

They are also for saying goodbye to your friends late at night; it works like this: you have spent an enjoyable evening at a friend’s house, but midnight has arrived and you should go; you have to walk out into the street and have a very loud conversation (including screaming with laughter if possible), then you shout “Byeeeee!, Byeeeee!, ByeeeEEEEEE!”, climb into your car, rev the engine, and Toot Toot as you drive away (wherupon your friends, still standing in the street, will again shout “Byeeeee!, Byeeeee!, ByeeeEEEEEE!” at the very top of their lungs).

When I read the OP I seriously thought this thread was a trollish joke. Honest I did. Then, as I read the other posts I remembered my experiences on out-of-town driving trips and the OP began to make sense.

You see, I live in NYC. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a drive, even if just going a few blocks, without using my horn – not in a gratuitous way, mind you. (Well, maybe sometimes in a gratuitous way.)

But my out-of-town driving experiences are entirely different. On many occasions, as I’ve driven back to the city from long road trips, I’ll be struck with the realization, “Geez, I’ve been driving every day for two weeks and I’ve never used the horn once!” This little realization never fails to amaze me.

~ stuy(working-on-his-second-horn)guy

They’re there so that your neighbor’s coworker doesn’t have to get their lazy ass out of the car when they pick them up. They should only be used prior to 6:30 in the morning and must be fully depressed at least twice.

There’s a rather obvious reason they still put horns on cars:

It’s the law.

In pretty much every North American jurisdiction, a functioning horn is a legal requirement for a motor vehicle.

If you love Jesus what else are you supposed to do?

Go to church? Get real!