Sorry for the hiatus in posting; I’m just back from three exhausting days of work in Honolulu and three even more exhausting days of recreation on the Big Island.
I saw lots of impressive stuff, including a judge who had figured out a way to keep probationers in line and out of jail and a volcano spilling rivers of lava into the ocean.
But more awe-inspiring still was something I didn’t see, or rather didn’t hear. Overoptimism on the part of a taxi dispatcher led me to spend twenty-five workday-afternoon minutes on a moderately busy streetcorner in downtown Honolulu, and not a single automobile horn sounded. Indeed, I didn’t hear a true Los Angeles-style blast of automotive rage in six days in-state, including two bad traffic jams, one at rush hour in Honolulu and the other created by road construction on the Big Island.
It’s not hard to make up stories explaining this: Hawaii’s obviously potent norms of cooperation and non-confrontation, summed up as the “aloha spirit” must be part of the explanation, and tipping effects must be another part. (Where horn-blowing is rare, it’s more likely to be punished both formally and informally; where it’s common, the risks to the horn-blower are much slighter.)
Here’s a harder problem: Would it be possible to convert a high-horn-blowing city into a low-horn-blowing city, and if so what would it cost and how long would it take? It seems to me that even rather substantial costs would be well worth paying. I found the silence, once I’d noticed it, almost eerie, but I promise you I’d be willing to get used to it.
Footnote No, the photo isn’t mine, but thanks for the compliment. It’s uncredited on the usgs website where I found it.
Update A reader reports that well-publicized $350 fines for horn-blowing seem to have reduced its incidence markedly in New York. Does anyone have data?