Experts in South Korea think they have found a less irritating way to express your frustration with fellow motorists. Well, it beats flipping them the bird

At the risk of sounding like Michael Gove, I think the problem with experts is that they don’t agree. Researchers in Seoul, having tested various car noises on 100 volunteers, have found that horns would suit us all much better if they sounded like ducks – still managing to alert people while being less irritating. However, Mike Stigwood, a consultant with noise-pollution specialist MAS Environmental, couldn’t disagree more. “No, absolutely not. You need a noise that triggers the sense in an alarming way and immediately draws your attention – which is what sirens and car horns currently do.” A quack is not that noise, except possibly to ducks.

The thing we hear is the intention beneath the noise, and intentionality governs response. It is also the difference between what you are acclimatised to and what you become hypersensitive to. “Someone moving from the countryside to live next to a motorway will have acclimatised to the traffic noise within a month,” Stigwood says. “Whereas if your neighbour has a rock-band rehearsal twice a week, you will get to the point where even the cars pulling up on the driveway will trigger adverse emotion.”

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