Have you ever thought why annoying horns in Kathmandu are so popular? We might not have realized the prospective harm of horns we blow. At this point, Let me write about the noise that is annoying everyone.
A study was conducted by the Ministry of Environment back in 2010/2011 to measure the level of sound pollution. The study was conducted in 5 major cities of Nepal Biratnagar, Kathmandu, Pokhara, Nepaljung, and Dhangadi. The report concludes that due to the high level of sound pollution those places are not liveable. If the pollution level is not attempted to reduce, it can have a significant impact on the health of the local residents. You can read the full report here if you have enough Nepali reading skills.
Source of loud noise in Kathmandu
By now most of you might already come up with prospective noise pollution sources in Nepal. Mostly, noise sources are buses, trucks, ambulances, construction works, industries, factories, and aircraft. Wait, do not judge me if I miss some sources. Because the sources of noise pollution are not limited to mentioned above. The list might go really long. The Himalayan Times has mentioned noise pollution in Nepal, the source of noise pollution in more detail.
Most of all, I want to mention the noise that can be avoided. And I would like to emphasize the ‘horn’ blown by drivers recklessly.
Blowing horn doesn’t cost anything to drivers. Everyone seems to be in hurry. It’s rare to see patient in drivers and rider. They do not care about the impact of the noise they cause by blowing horn recklessly. There are schools areas, the hospital where laws are not necessary to prohibit blowing horn. But despite the law and prohibiting sign, is it so that no one cares? This is serious.
Moreover, horn’s loudness, intensity, and pitch in the vehicle seem to be designed more to harm than to notify pedestrian and fellow drivers.
Someone might argue that blowing horn might reduce accident in the streets of Kathmandu. But those who are honking recklessly should also oversee the impact they leave behind.
Impact of Noise pollution
Noise pollution can have short term and long term impact on human beings and animals. Some of the effects are sleep disturbance, hypertension, annoyance, stress, dizziness, cardiovascular disease, insomnia, lack of concentration. Long-term exposure may cause hearing loss. Some other social and economic loss including the impact on wildlife and Marine life are listed here.
Let’s talk about some acceptable sound levels. In-house noise level should not exceed 45-55db. Acceptable noise level outdoor should not be beyond 75-85db. These numbers might not make more sense because irritation or disturbance level can vary depending on individuals. Can you think sound intensity above 100db? Most of the large vehicles namely buses and trucks are capable of producing sound higher than that.
Law and campaigns
You won’t find lack of campaigns and laws to prevent unnecessary honking. Additionally, several laws and acts define noise in their own words. Vehicle entrepreneurs, Police and Transport department had latest agreement to prohibit pressure horns starting April 14, 2017( Baisakh 12,2074). Law says if you are honking recklessly in restricted areas you will be fined up to NRS 1500.
Lonely Planet has mentioned exciting news about actions taken to ban pressure horn in Thamel and its periphery.
Experiences from Europe and the US
I have walked across the street of several countries in Europe and cities in the US. I barely see signs for horn prohibited zones, nor did I hear blaring horns. Streets are quiet. The only sound I hear is the friction between tires and roads and pressure on the gas.
There were sometimes I heard drivers honking. That made me look around to see what has happened because horns are so rare. Firstly, horns are heard only if the driver is posing risk to its fellow driver. Secondly, if pedestrians are crossing the streets at the red signal. I never heard drivers honking in zebra crossing, and turns.
I leave up to you to think why the pressure honking is infamous in the western world. Why only we in Nepal need to run campaigns, request drives not to blow horn recklessly? Of course, while giving driving test there is a chapter about horns restricted zones. So what makes us so irresponsible?
What can you do to avoid noise
If you are rider or driver reading this blog, remember when you last get annoyed by reckless honking. Everybody deserves to live in the peaceful and quiet environment.
- In an emergency situation, you can blow a gentle horn just to notify intended pedestrian or fellow drivers.
- If you are a victim of sharp and loud noise from a vehicle, factories, industries, loudspeakers, solicitation, I do not suggest to argue but get away with it as soon as you can.
- Experts recommend wearing earplugs as necessary, maintain the sound level between 35-40db.
- If possible try to avoid yourself exposing in loud noise for a long time.
- Discuss in your community and prohibit blowing horn in the neighborhood.
Live and let live in a quiet environment.