Horn OK Please, the phrase usually seen painted on the trucks, buses and autos in India is just to alert a driver of a vehicle approaching from behind to sound their horn in case they wish to overtake. That’s it? No, the actual purpose of this grammatically wrong slogan is something different. Lets find out.
No one knows the exact origin of this phrase. By the way, this phrase has no official significance with respect to the Indian traffic regulations and no rule in India make it mandatory to use such a “slogan” on a vehicle. Still many vehicles are decorated with the phrase Horn OK please.
#1. Ages ago, TATA group was the eminent manufacturer of Trucks in India. Its subsidiary company, Tata Oil Mills Ltd. Co (TOMCO) came up with a new brand of detergent known as “OK”. And to promote the detergent TOMCO used the motor medium very efficiently by painting OK between Horn Please on vehicles making it Horn OK Please. The logo of this brand of detergent was a lotus flower. This continued for a few years and now the detergent isn’t available in market. But the lorry drivers who are unaware of this continued to paint OK.
#2. The other theory of the origin of this phrase takes place in the Second World War. Trucks were often run on petrol due to the shortage of diesel in those days. Petrol, a highly unstable chemical, used to cause a blast at the minutest accidents. So a caution would be written in paint on the back saying “Horn Please, On Petrol”. Eventually it became a norm and is still seen on most trucks even this day.
#3. Historians also give an clarification that in those days of the blackout on lights, a car had to honk to overtake a lorry in the night. In reply to the honk, a red bulb under the truck would be used by the truck driver to signal that it was OK to overtake. The OK painted below the bulb used to illuminate when the bulb is switched on to signal OK.
#4. A logical thinker explains that, the original phrase was Horn OTK (overtake) please. And since many times the T would merge into the panelling of the truck it got mistaken for OK.
#5. A further explanation (this might be the true reason) is that the OK is separate from the Horn Please. It is painted in big, bold letters, below Horn Please to allow the other drivers from behind to realise that they were OK and alive, thus avoiding them from rash driving etiquette; in addition, this is painted in big letters so as to make them maintain an appropriate braking distance.
On 30th April, 2015, Maharashtra government banned the usage of this slogan as they felt that this slogan promoted unnecessary honking, thus giving rise to noise pollution.
In our neighbouring country Pakistan, instructions are used in the same way, but with rather different styles and phrases. Like the phrase Horn de kar paas karein painted in their national language Urdu, usually found at the back of heavy vehicles, trucks, and trailers traveling on long routes or highways.
What ever might be the reason, we Indians are used to this grammatically incorrect phrase “Horn OK Please“.
About the Author
Sahul, a newbie with creative thoughts, novel ideas & fecund imagination. His hobbies include drawing, editing photographs and writing poetry. Apart from this, he loves reading and finds pleasure in friendship. His attitude towards life is “Preach what you Practise.”