Mumbai Makes Impatient Drivers Wait Longer

Police in India are testing new traffic lights that punish the impatient

Photo: iStock/monticelllo.

By Erika Morris


At any given intersection in Mumbai, you can expect to hear a cacophony of car horns at every red light. With a population approaching 19 million, Mumbai is the world’s fourth most congested city (according to the recent TomTom Traffic Index) and it’s common practice for the Indian capital’s impatient drivers to honk their horns until the light turns green—at least, it’s been common practice.

Mumbai Police are determined to crack down on the noise pollution. Starting in November 2019, they began experimenting with a system that will make those who honk more wait longer. Rigged traffic signals were installed at 10 of the city’s major intersections; dubbed “The Punishing Signal,” the lights reset to the start of the red cycle when the system detects any car horn above 85 decibels. The new lights are accompanied by signs warning, “Honk More, Wait More.”

A video about the project on social media went viral, with people around the world commending its ingenuity.

The honking has long been a problem, according to Mumbai’s police, and they had been itching to come up with a solution. Noise pollution increases overall stress levels, and the police say this initiative will help make Mumbai a less stressful city.

If all goes well, the solution to the unsettling noise of several car horns sounding simultaneously is meant to take over major intersections over the course of a few months.