“Horn Please” is a very common message you see on the back of the trucks in India. This could be very strange thing for those who are not from India.
One probable reason for “Horn OK Please” phrase being written on the back of trucks is quite obvious. Indian drivers rarely use their side mirrors, and instead use horns to indicate when they are about to overtake a car. Trucks, in particular, are often not even equipped with side mirrors in the first place. As a result, the backs of trucks may be painted to urge drivers to use their horn as a signal to the truck driver when they are overtaking.
What provoked me to search the depth of this frivolous message ?
I was driving amidst of perennial stream of vehicles. A three lane, one way road, occupied by four and half lanes of vehicles. Occasional two wheeler or a car in the opposite direction despite being on one way traffic. The common caution message “Horn please ” on the back of a three wheeler in front of me driving erratically, frustrating my attempt to follow the lane, drew my attention. Look at the picture below that I took when the traffic came to a complete halt, before it snailed again.
The script writer and the owner of the vehicle are both blissfuly illiterate, I am sure. Owner somehow knew the phrase to be written, and the fellow who wrote must have just followed the accent and straight downloaded the accent.
Why on earth is there a need to write this phrase on the back of the vehicle. ?
This practice is followed be only in India I guess.
I just searched the net.
Below is the condensed form of the research.
In olden days in India there were small roads, The vehicle who needed to over take the vehicle in the front, would blare the horn. The vehicle in front would give way to the vehicle behind to overtake. In fact there is a missing word ” OK” in between Horan and Plesh. It should have been ” Horan OK Plesh”. There used to be light bulb just above the OK. The driver in front would put on this “OK” bulb so that vehicle behind knows that it is clear and safe to overtake.
This word “OK” has some more explanations. I learnt that it was actually “OTK” – short form for “Ok to overtake” . The letter T got faded away over the period and the bulb is also not seen these days.
There is another explanation for “OK”. During world war II, there was scarcity of petrol and hence kerosene was widely used and carried by tankers. It was quite common for the kerosene carrier to catch fire and explode during the accidents. OK was short form of “On Kerosene” just to let others know that the carrier was carrying explosive liquid.
There is another explanation for ” OK” The word OK used to be written in bold and specific font size. The driver in the vehicle behind, if he could read the letter OK it would indicate that he is at safe distance.
There is another explanation for word OK. Though this explanation was less impressive. Indian conglomerate TATA is a big business house in India. They produced trucks and many other FMCG goods, including detergents. It is said, they had a detergent brand called “OK” and they used to write OK on their trucks as advertisement of this product.
So……. the real origin of the phrase is still not crystal clear. There could be more than one reason.
Things are changing in India. Multi lane highways and elevated roads are quite common in major cities. One state in India has made a law banning the writing of the phrase “Horn OK Please”. This is not to say that Indian drivers do not honk any more.
Most do not know the reason for writing the phrase but blindly follow the tradition. However this practice is fast fading.
One day there will be no unnecessary honking on Indian roads I hope.