Honk For Peace? A Plea For Traffic Serenity


A regular staple of transportation media coverage is the Most Dangerous Intersection story. The subject is ripe for the reporter’s picking, with official statistics providing a tally on the number of collisions, injuries and fatalities at a given spot.

But today I offer another, more subjective category: Least Peaceful Intersection. In my neighborhood, a top nominee is the heavily traveled crossing at Harlem Avenue and Lake Street that borders Oak Park and River Forest, just west of Chicago.

This has always been a dicey area in which to maneuver. But on weekends lately, the Least Peaceful needle goes off the charts over there.

The biggest culprit?

Ironically, it’s the anti-war activists urging motorists to “honk for peace.”

All of those horns blaring create an unsettling, cacophonous environment that brings to mind the tale of the boy who falsely cried wolf. With so many toot-tooting and beep-beeping for peace, there’s little assurance that any one honk will be interpreted as a warning to avoid a collision.

Compounding the stress is the ongoing distraction that stems from motorists gazing at the homemade signs—and offering their reactions—to signs castigating President Bush. Meantime, pedestrians play a continual game of dodge-the-distracted driver.

So here’s a two-fold suggestion:

1. Honk-Your-Horn Rabble-Rousers: please step back a bit from the curb—rest assured that you will still get our dutiful attention.

And while you’re at it, change “honk” to “wave” on those signs. “Wave for peace” is more like it, don’t you think?

2. Motorists: please use the horn for its intended purpose. Most of us are blessed to have two hands, so here’s the strategy: keep one hand on the wheel even as you flutter your fingertips toward the well-intentioned peaceniks in our midst.

By taking these steps, we will truly display our commitment to peace, not only on foreign soil but also here at home.

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