Who wants to be a “Phantom Honker”?


I had to laugh out loud as I read this report from CBC on the aftermath of the truckers’ protest in Canada’s capital city.

The trucks [in Ottawa] have … been removed, with police pushing the majority of protesters outside of the downtown core over the Family Day long weekend. Even still, some downtown residents say they’re haunted by “phantom honking” — what sounds like blaring truck horns, but no actual sounds are there.

“When you hear that noise, it’s like, ‘Oh, are they back? Is there a road convoy coming back, right?'” said Sean Flynn, who lives about three kilometres from downtown but could still hear the horns inside his home during the protests.

“‘I felt I was constantly doing these sort of double takes … it almost feels a bit re-traumatizing.”

Flynn isn’t alone. Downtown resident Zakir Virani said he hears phantom honking, too, usually at night, which keeps him awake.

“It’s hard to explain because I think with any post-traumatic stress-induced thinking, it’s not very rational. You’re not actually hearing honking,” he said, adding he experiences “constant on-edgeness” and “fear” any time he steps outside since the protests.

“It’s not good for anyone to feel that way.”

There’s more at the link.

I suggest that freedom-loving Canadians should consider their own form of aversion therapy:  letting victims of “phantom honking” become better acclimatized to the sound.  After all, if they can get used to Canadian geese honking, they can get used to the road-going sound too, surely?

Amazon can help.  There are dozens of electrically- and pneumatically-powered truck-type air horns that can be fitted to an ordinary car, SUV or minivan, out of sight and out of mind until needed.  Some are small enough that they can even be carried in a backpack or waist pouch (at the expense of sound volume, of course).  I’m sure other suppliers offer a similar selection, and they don’t appear to be very expensive.

Were I a freedom-loving Canadian, I’d be getting together with my friends to fit these to as many of our vehicles as possible, then driving through the neighborhoods where truckers were most in evidence.  A gentle “toot” or two as one went down the street might remind people why the truckers were there, and that they – and their cause – have not gone away.  What’s more, if no horns are in evidence, how will anyone in authority know who’s responsible or who to stop?  If the horn’s in a cyclist’s backpack, that’s even less likely to attract the attention of the authorities.

I see possibilities here . . .



  1. Get one of those small air horns with it's own compressor, a solar charger, 12v battery, and a small microcontroller, and you can have it honk at random intervals during day light hours.

    Put that up on a building and watch the hilarity ensue.

    Simon Jester approved…

    Bonus points for putting it under a drone and have it move about at night.

  2. I tried to tell my hubby he needs an air horn for his power wheel chair. People would definitely hear him then.

  3. I have got to upgrade the horn on my Subaru. It's about as anemic a piece of crap as I've heard – perfect for the polite flannel-wearing dykes who usually drive this vehicle. I need to upgrade to at least the level of the horns on my last two motorcycles which were of the "eff you -YES YOU" variety.

  4. I've got one of those horn upgrades somewhere… I need to find it and install it. They used to be $20 at Harbor Freight.

    I know a guy who installed a train horn on his truck. He loves to get behind a car at a crossing and hit it as they're crossing the tracks…

  5. On my first Moto Guzzi I ended up with 3 horn sets. The oem pair that sounded sort of like a car, a pair of Fiamm horns that were powered with a relay, and the air horns that were run by a small air compressor by relay. All connected to the single button.

    The oem worked if I just tapped the button, used to just get someones attention. The Fiamms made noise if the button was held more than a half second, and were used to express my annoyance at some idiot driver. The air pump took a second to spin up, and was used as a substitute to beating on the offender's vehicle. That 'big rig" HONK!!! had more than one vehicle leave the road when it was employed. They deserved it. That it sounded as though multiple vehicles were about to impact the miscreant was part of the effect.

    Those 70's vintage Guzzis had a battery that was sized for a car. Heck, the starter motor WAS a car part (Opel). Horns tend to be the second biggest electrical draw, after the starter.

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