Mumbai Police stunt encourages drivers to #HonkResponsibly


By Gwyn Humphreys |

India, Services

Being stuck in traffic is frustrating, dull and very irritating. 

If you live in a busy city, you’ll know this feeling well.

But imagine if you lived in Mumbai – the most car-congested city in India and the fourth most congested in the world.

Research conducted by navigation specialists TomTom found that Mumbai reached a height of 65% congestion in 2019 with drivers spending an average of eight days and 17 hours in traffic each year.

Frustrated by sitting in traffic jams, an unspoken habit has swept across the city; honk your horn loud enough and hopefully the lights will switch to green.

Fed up by the deafening sound every time the lights turned red, Mumbai Police created a brilliant experiential prank to punish honk-happy drivers.

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‘The Punishing Signal’ was based on a simple rule “honk more, wait more”. It consisted of a traffic light system that resets to the red light if sound levels break an 85-decibel limit. Meaning the more you honk, the longer you wait.

Mumbai police shared the tongue-in-cheek video on social media in an attempt to “hit the mute button on Mumbai’s reckless honkers”. The efforts have racked up some serious likes and retweets, with the video going viral. 

The #HonkResponsibly hashtag was also used to raise awareness for more considered beeping and road rage habits worldwide.

The video captures the frustrated reactions of drivers waiting impatiently at the lights after some incessant honking, which reset the special timer on the red light back by 90 seconds.

The baffled and bemused motorists then gestured towards a large billboard that reads “Honk more, wait more”.

The Punishing Signal campaign gained worldwide media coverage and social media momentum. Due to its success, there is talk of implementing it in other cities across India.

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This isn’t the first time we’ve seen authorities using experiential stunts to promote road safety and responsible driving.

Interactive billboards are a popular choice. Australia’s Transport Accident Commission created insta-worthy billboards to tackle tiredness at the wheel and Road Safety Authority France scared passers-by in Paris with a frightening  experiential billboard in Paris.