User behavior of people while honking

Image for post
Image for post


Honking becomes inevitable where there is a traffic but people seem to be very casual while honking the vehicle horn especially in India. There might be different reasons for that. In this pictorial paper, I am presenting material experiment to probe why people honk and what is the thought process behind honking that particular horn.

Author Keywords

Vehicle honking, Vehicle horn, User behavior, Probes


In this world, vehicle horns are survival tool, and a weapon.[1] People use it constantly- to berate, to warn, to show their presence on road. The situation gets worse during traffic when someone honks recklessly or there might be other reasons behind honking which we are not aware of it. In order to know the reasons behind vehicle honking, I experimented with audio and video probes along with the paper form.

Design process

The procedure I used is written by Priscilla Esser and IDF. It includes 3 stages i.e. Preparing, Collecting, Communicating.[2]

1)Preparing and developing the probe

This phase is the pillar of the whole process. As authors said that you have to collect the feelings rather than fact and for that preparing phase should be clear. First, I identified design goal/design intend by writing down key questions. The questions are related to vehicle honking but some of them are not giving the right intent of the design goal at first. So, I selected few key questions based on what I need to know by making probes, by deciding who are my users and where and when I want to experiment. My users were students and facilitators of Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology-Bangalore. It was an individual experiments. The second step was to develop probe.

Image for post
Image for post

Process of making probes

I used video, audio and a form including questions to create probe. For video, I went to city and took some videos. Videos includes different scenes of different places. For audio, I recorded sound of horns. Horns includes different styles i.e. long pressed horn, short pressed horn, loud horn. Each sound is unique. And for form, I included some questions regarding the video and audio.

At the beginning, I just used audio. Based on audio people had to share their experience if they have ever listen it anywhere. When I tested with users they were not able to visualize. So I thought to add scenarios where people can easily visualize the situation. Initially I made 5 video clips which means 5 scenes and 5 different audios. In the form there were 5 set of questions which user needed to fill up. After doing pilot testing, I realized that people found the process quite lengthy. So, I reduced the number of videos and set of questions to 3. Also, there were some scenes which were quite similar to each other. So, again I went to take some video clips and did pilot testing again.

Working of probes

First user has to watch video. Video includes scenario where he needs to pretend that he is driving. Video stops at particular time when there is a need of honking. There are 5 audios which includes different sound of horn. After video stops, user has to select 1 audio. There is a form which has some questions related to honking and user has to fill it up according to audio he has chosen. There are total 3 scenarios and 5 different audios for each of them.

Image for post
Image for post
Video and audio probe


This phase includes collecting the data. On the day of project showcase, I experimented my probe with Srishti students and facilitators. I had also taken print outs of form which user had to fill. Each user was seeing videos, choosing audios and according to chosen audio filling up forms. I discussed the data with users when they were filling form. I got data of 10 users.

Image for post
Image for post
form(To be filled by users)


This last phase is an analyzing phase of collected data from users.

Image for post
Image for post

For scene no-1, 6 people chose horn no-4. People chose it because it was just a small press on horn and there was a moderate traffic and vehicle seemed to be pretty far. So, they thought to not worry. Those who haven’t chose this horn thought that there are 2 cars crossing at the same time and if they won’t be careful accident might happen so they chose long pressed horn.

Image for post
Image for post

For scene no-2, 7 people chose horn no-3. They thought that overtaking someone from left side is a wrong way and it’s your responsibility to tell other people to be careful. Remaining people thought that the car driver was not riding properly and they weren’t crossing it from left side and hence not breaking the rule as they were constantly riding from left side only. So, they chose the horn which has less intensity just to give indication to that driver to drive safely and no not take turn at left side.

Image for post
Image for post

For scene no-3, 5 people chose horn no-2. They saw that pedestrian were crossing the road and have no clue about vehicle coming towards them. Most of the people who didn’t choose this horn thought that they respect pedestrian and they always give side to them. If needed then only they will horn.

Image for post
Image for post
Data visualization of horns chosen by users. Numbers represents the number of horn(audio) user chose. Number 1 to 5 has unique colors.

Improving probes in future

There were different ideas of making probes like making a wizard of oz video or IoT base solution where I could track user’s emotions or heart-rate by wearing fitbit or other wearable technology. For next time, I would like to try to integrate wearable technology with an app which track user’s behaviour or movement while driving or can track heart-rate. Estimating these things might give accurate data.


In this pictorial paper I summarized the work I did in two weeks of workshop “Material experiments for probing” happened at Srishti institute of Art, Design and Technology. I have explained the process and making of probes which includes audio and videos. This probe helps to know why people honk and what they think when they honk. People had also relate the scenes with their personal experience.


I would like to thank the workshop facilitator Kshama Nagaraja. Thank you for guiding me throughout the whole process and giving me feedbacks. I would also like to thank Srishti students and facilitator for giving their time and experimenting with my probe.


[1] Mumbai police play a trick on honking drivers from

[2] Probes for context mapping- How to Design and use them from

Written by

Developer and Designer

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store