A car horn’s main purpose is to communicate with pedestrians and other drivers but that sound can be overall irritating to hear. One South Korean professor found that out of dozens of possibilities of less irritating alert noises to replace the car horn with, test respondents preferred a duck quack.

According to Sky News, the research was conducted at Soongsil University in Seoul South Korea. 100 respondents were asked to rank various sounds on scales of stress and loudness from 1-5. The sound that won overall as being the least stressful to the ear was a duck quack.

Lead researcher Professor Myung-Jin Bae said:

“In our study, we used the existing historic Klaxon sound source but made some modification concerning its volume and rhythm with duration time by adding a power controller.”

“Our new Klaxon sound ( a duck quack) can immediately alert the pedestrians of the danger while also reducing the unpleasantness and stress of the sound.”

While in theory, a duck quack might make for a friendlier tone, there are a couple of issues that might arise.

For one, in areas with large populations of ducks, how would this affect their day to day lives? It would probably be confusing for ducks to hear quacking and not know where it’s coming from.

In larger metropolitan areas, duck horns might be even more confusing to humans. The regular soundtrack of a busy city is synonymous with regular traffic sounds; car horns, people shouting, and loud conversations. Suddenly introducing duck sounds in a city environment might be slightly confusing and would defeat the purpose of a car horn, which is to alert people, not confuse them.

The research done does hint at other possible sounds that didn’t make the cut but are not sounds from nature. Those possibly could be real alternatives to the regular car horn.

Although Professor Bae’s alternative duck quack sound might not make it into production, his other research we dug up along the way does have some promise.

For one, one particularly interesting piece of research advocates introducing hawk and falcon cries blasted on airport runways to deter birds and reduce airplane-bird collisions.

Another study by Professor Bae finds that proper hydration is key to not sounding drunk…when you’re actually drunk. I can’t help but include this gem of a line that was actually published in the conclusion

“Drinking is an essential part of people’s lives. Proper drinking will help not only people but also social life. ”

I’m beginning to like Professor Bae’s research more and more!

Duck sounds might not replace regular car noises in the near future but it’s important to research nonetheless.

If you happen to be a car horn fanatic and are absolutely enthralled by Bae research, he’ll be in Boston presenting in the flesh at the 173rd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.

But if all this car horn research flies right over your head, this guy had a far more enjoyable approach.



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