Sometimes it feels like the rules of the road and the driving test don’t match the real world. I learned to reverse around the corner. I have used it once a year. But at no point was I schooled on the correct pressure to apply when beeping the horn for several different messages and also to interpret the different beeps.
Officially you are only allowed to beep the horn “warn other road users of oncoming danger or to make drivers aware of your presence for safety reasons when reasonably necessary.” This is of course completely ignored. There are many unofficial uses for the horn and we need a sort of morse code.
There is a good-natured urgent beep to say “I’m outside, let’s go if we’re to have any hope of getting parking.”
There is a short sharp beep to announce that you are leaving the place you have just said goodbye to half a second earlier. It is a response to them tapping the roof and a way of letting everyone inside know visitors are finally gone and they can all relax.
You need two short beeps to say “HOW’S THE MAN?!” to a fella you hadn’t seen in a while and how is he at all, at all?
There is a super-short bip to let someone ahead know that the lights have changed and to “move on there like a good lad when you’re scrolling Instagram on your phone”.
We also need a beep to tell someone something's about to fall out of their car, or indeed, bicycle pannier. Then there is the prolonged, pointless, angry beeping that you do if you or the other person (or both) are a gobshite.
With flashing headlights, officially you should only use them to warn of some sort of danger like someone has forgotten to put their headlights on, not to tell them there’s “A Speed Van up ahead, the hoor”.
Lorries use headlights to say hello to other lorries. A giant lighthouse signal, that interferes with passing planes, just to say “well lad, you’re on the way back I see. Fair play. I’ll see you in Supermacs at Exit 3.”
But also lorry drivers use it angrily when passed by another lorry on the motorway who is travelling at 0.5km an hour more than them and spends three minutes overtaking them just to slot in about ten feet in front.
We need some way to communicate other messages. Like if someone with numberplates in italics is “up your hole” on the motorway flashing their lights (definitely an illegal use) when you are overtaking someone else at a non-lunatic speed, you need something that says “Kindly remove yourself from my exhaust, you absolute spoon”.
Perhaps some sort of global car-messaging service we can sign up to. To allow people like my father to message to whoever overtakes them dangerously only to be stuck behind the silage-man 300 yards further on: “what good did passing me do you hah?”
Speaking of silage, the silage-man needs some pre-indicator to tell people on bank holidays, “I know a good spot on the road and I’ll pull into it in about five minutes to let you pass, if you’ll relax a small bit.”
Sometimes it feels like there are disproportionate punishments for various traffic offenses. For example, there is still an outdated law that says “if you let someone out onto the road in front of you and they don’t turn on the hazards to say thanks, it is an offence to follow them to their destination and pistol whip them in front of their family for their lack of gratitude.”
I will be submitting these suggestions to the RSA in person. I’ll beep when I’m outside.