With unnecessary honking becoming a menace for Delhi and many other metropolitans across India, “#HandsOffTheHorn”, a civil society campaign, in association with Lions Club Delhi, Moolchand Medcity, Delhi Traffic Police, Earth Saviors, CME/COP committee, DMA and IMA South Delhi branch, recently jointly organized a “Public Health Symposium” focused on the effects of noise on our health and legal aspects of honking.

Exposure to prolonged or excessive noise has been shown to cause a range of health problems ranging from stress, poor concentration, productivity losses in the workplace, and communication difficulties and fatigue from lack of sleep, to more serious issues such as cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment to name a few.

“The scientific community across the globe sees pollution as a common enemy. The World Health Organization document terms noise pollution as the deadliest because of its health and social implications including hearing impairment, interference with spoken communication, cardiovascular disturbances, mental health problems, impaired cognition, negative social behavior and sleep disturbances. The largest portion of noise pollution in cities like Delhi emanates from vehicles. Honking is the culprit for all the above mentioned ailments”, said Dr. Chanchal Pal, Senior ENT Consultant and HOD, Dept of ENT, Moolchand Hospital and President of Lions Club Delhi. Dr. Pal convened the discussion on “Effect of noise on our hearing”

Also part of this mobilization initiative is the Delhi Traffic Police, which intends to prosecute those who do not adhere to the law. “Mostly citizens are aware of the law, but some of them don’t follow it. Honking is avoidable, but it requires everyone to change their behavior. If each driver pledges to only honk during an emergency and not when they are impatient, our city can significantly lower noise pollution” said Ms. Manju SI, Inspector (Traffic) Road Safety, Delhi Traffic Police. The much needed campaign will also push the No Honking message out on Delhi Traffic Police social media channels and ask Delhi’s citizens to join in and spread the message of Hands Off The Horn on Facebook and Whatsapp.

Noise pollution has led to a fall in the age at which presbycusis (an age related hearing loss), affects human. About a decade ago, presbycusis affected people in their late 70s. But now, it can be seen in people in their 50s. “This is because of screeching vehicles and incessant honking”, said Dr. Ravi Kalra, Founder of Earth Saviors Foundation. “An increasing number of youngsters are developing similar hearing loss because of constant exposure to traffic. Headphones with ear-splitting music are also causing the condition”, he added.

“The solution to the epidemic of honking are many. These include enforcement through penalty, behavior change campaigns and more stringent tests for driving licenses. We should all come together to find a permanent solution to the problem of honking and hence we organized a Public Health Symposium to re-iterate and raise awareness of the ill-effects of honking. This is the major cause of road rage in the capital” said Reecha Upadhyay, Campaign Director, Hands Off The Horn .

Note: To put an end to unnecessary honking and make your city quieter and healthier, join the campaign #HandsOffTheHorn