This summer, as last summer, we heard from people who visited national parks, camping, hiking, and sleeping under the stars in some of the quietest places on earth, only to have that stillness broken by honks, beeps, and chirps as people assured themselves that their cars were locked. A camper who visted Crater Lake and Lassen Volcanic National Park wrote,
"Hiking up in the mountains I could hear the parking lot horn honks echo all the way up. Whoever came up with this feature clearly never spent any time in camp grounds or peaceful places that now have horn honking and chirping all through the canyons."
Others wrote about their inability to enjoy the simple pleasure of an open window on a summer day.
A musician who has lived in Quebec for twenty-six years faces an office building. "Since car-lock horn honking started and multiplied a few years ago, my family has had to sleep with the windows closed, and summers are the worst. Some people work shifts, and some start as early as 6:00 a.m., and so does the honking. It happens at midnight, 2:00 a.m., you name it. And of course, it happens all day long.
"Silent or quiet electronic beeps used by most high-end cars disturb no one. It's 100% avoidable noise pollution, and there is absolutely no excuse for it. I've had to watch my baby girl jump in her sleep every time a loud honk happened, and there was nothing I could do about it. I have many friends who feel the same way, but it's such a hard thing to fight - whom do you complain to? The auto industry is to blame, but they don't seem to be held accountable for this."
A registered nurse from Phoenix, Arizona lives with her family in a home with double pane windows and outer stucco with extra thick insulation, but has to sleep in an interiorly located living room (rather than the bedroom), as the horn honking from the parking lot "occurrs 24/7, and is disruptive to sleep.
"Our neighbors had guests for several days this summer. Their car was parked in the driveway, and every time they went to their car, the horn would honk.
"At the medical building I work in, patients are subjected to lock feedback honking from the surrounding parking lots - they are being robbed of their right to recover in a peaceful, healing environment."
We also heard from travelers who left car rental agencies with models that honked.
One traveler makes it a point to request cars that don't honk. He tried to refuse a Volkswagen Golf, but was told that it would not honk during locking. "'Okay,' I replied, 'but if it honks I'll be right back to get another car.' Sure enough, it honked."
He promptly returned the contract and key to the desk. The agent disappeared, and after several minutes reappeared with the same contract and key, but he had reconfigured the system because there weren't any non-honking cars available. "So, they can do it after all! Some agents have denied it could be done. When there's a will, there's a way!"
We also heard from people who decided to let people know that they can lock their cars without honking.
A resident of Kitchener, Waterloo, Ontario who cares about the natural and sound environment created a friendly poster requesting that car owners "silence the horns" when locking their cars - you can download the poster here! We were happy to hear that the poster was well received by the local Transition Town group - and we love the poster!