The Many Uses for a Horn

While in Martinique on our recent Caribbean cruise we noticed how the tour bus drivers make extensive use of their horns to communicate with other drivers and pedestrians, much more than we do here in the U.S.

Because many of the Caribbean islands are mountainous with lots of steep, narrow winding roads that have blind curves, drivers have to have a way to alert other drivers when coming around a corner to prevent accidents.  We had a few close calls when other drivers apparently weren’t paying attention, and going a little too fast for the conditions, even when the bus driver beeped his horn.

Drivers use a couple quick beeps of the horn to get someone’s attention, not just for blind curves, but anyone they want to alert.  If it’s someone they know, and our tour bus drivers seem to know everyone on the island, they beep to say hello and give a wave.

They use the horn when passing a car that is stopped on the road to alert the driver they’re going by.  They thank another driver for letting them pass on a narrow road or letting them into oncoming traffic with a short blast of the horn too.  Here in the U.S. we usually give the other driver a wave.

And of course they use the horn to tell another car, person, or even animal to get out of the way.  In the Caribbean there are all kinds of animals you may encounter on the roads.  Cows, sheep, goats, chickens, etc. all roam around some Caribbean islands freely.

One use of the horn that we didn’t witness was when another driver did something that made them angry.  Instead of laying on the horn like we do here in the U.S., the driver just throws up one of his arms to indicate his disapproval.  Maybe that’s there version of flipping someone the finger.

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