scope of work:
Social Behaviour

work > bleep

project: Reducing honking on Indian roads

Indiscriminate honking is abuse. Nevertheless in India we love to honk. But our love for honking causes noise pollution, and noise pollution has been proved to increase hyper-tension, blood pressure, stress hormones, increased risk of heart attacks and disturbed sleep patterns 01.

The horn is essentially an alert system that is part of the safety features of a car. True Indian roads are chaotic but does that justify the amount we honk? Or has our excessive honking become part of our driving experience, simply a habit.

Theo Bodin - Lund University Hospital, Sweden. Sep 2009.
Minho Kim et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2012.
Burden of disease from environmental noise - WHO/ JRC EU Commision. 2011
Mette Sørensen et al. - Plos One - June 20, 2012
Behavioural Design
Sources for graphic:
Mumbai - TOI - 29th Aug, 2012
Delhi - Center for Science and Environment - Sep 2011
Kochi - The Hindu, 9th Aug 2004
Bengaluru - Ministry of Environment and Forests
Kolkata - The Telegraph, Feb 2010
Chennai - Ministry of Environment and Forests
Mysore - Case Study by Naveen G.M , Vinay Kumar B.M, Dept. of civil Engg, V.V.I.E.T, Mysore
Vishakapatnam - TOI Dec 26, 2012
Pune - Maharashtra pollution Control Board

approach: Behavioural Design vs awareness

There have been many awareness-based campaigns that have been tried by different organizations and people across India, but none have succeeded at changing people’s behaviour related to honking. That’s because awareness doesn’t always lead to action. Take for example, why smokers continue to smoke inspite of the danger warnings.

At Briefcase we believe such behaviour change requires a different approach. Honking like other behaviour, over time, becomes a habit. And habits are essentially automatic behaviour where one does not consciously think about the action. We realized that it was important to shift the driver from an automatic mode of honking as a habit, to make him deliberate on whether the situation really demanded that he honk. We needed to make the driver conscious of the habit of honking by giving him immediate feedback while the driver was still driving the car, so that the next time the driver honked only when he thought it was necessary, rather than honk indiscriminately.

This approach led us to create a 'Horn Reduction System' we've called Bleep that has proved to reduce honking amongst 100% of participants by an average of 61%.

the experiment:

In our test cars we put a simple red button in an easliy accessible place on the dashboard. The red button had a frownie printed on it. When the driver honked, the button beeped and flashed much like a seat belt reminder. To turn it off the driver had to press the button.

Bleep has been tested on manual and automatic geared cars amongst 30 people including men, women and paid drivers (chauffeurs) of private vehicles, over a period of 6 months and over 3800 kms. The participants were given either of two cars – manually geared Swift or automatic Honda City, with Bleep fitted, to be driven for 4 days during the working week. Two days with Bleep off and the next two days with Bleep on, so that we could compare the number of honks per kilometer in the control situation (pre-Bleep) with the experimental situation (post-Bleep). Bleep has been tested as triggering off every time the horn is pressed, which is a stricter version of the reminder in the manually geared Swift car, as well as triggering off every third time the horn is pressed, which is a more lenient version of the reminder, in the automatic Honda City. In the first phase of the experiment the drivers were not given any information about the experiment. In the second phase they were simply shown how the system works.

the results:

We found a reduction in honking in 100% of the participants wherein honks per km reduced between 19% to 96% when Bleep was triggered every time the horn was pressed (stricter version) and a reduction in honks per km between 16% to 91% when Bleep was triggered every third time the horn was pressed (lenient version). These numbers prove that the reduction in honking relates to indiscriminate honking that drivers can do without.

Most behaviour is subconscious and what people do is quite different from what they think they do. So while we all think that we don't honk much, all the participants of the experiment were surprised to hear about their total honks and honks per km statistics.

project partners:
Video Animation:
nitin patel
Video Direction:
Video Sound:
jiten solanki

effectiveness: The science behind Bleep

The science behind the effectiveness of Bleep is that it assists the driver in reducing honking by using a visual-cum-sound reminder. The driver gets instant feedback when the red light with the frown beeps and flashes when he honks (every third time in case of the lenient version), making the driver conscious about his inappropriate behaviour of honking and making him deliberate about when he really required to honk. The driver having to physically switch off the reminder further helps in persuading him to honk lesser. The frown on the device is designed to indicate that honking is socially inappropriate behaviour. A study called ‘Overcoming Intuition’ done by Alter, Oppenheimer, Epley and Eyre has shown that frowning helps the brain reduce the reliance on intuition and activates analytical reasoning. Another research at the Stanford University School of Medicine has shown that peak brain activity (arresting attention) occurred during a short period of silence between musical movements, which is evidence that sounds that have a pause in between make you more alert. That’s why a seatbelt reminder like sound was used in the beep.

Bleep comes with many other features like recording, displaying and transmission of vehicle data like number of honks, speed at time of honk, location, time, etc inside the vehicle or at a remote location.

Indiscriminate honking is abuse, lets bleep out the abuse.
Bleep - A horn reduction system. Patent Pending.