Dear Click & Clack,
I am a psychology professor at the American University in Cairo here in Cairo, Egypt, and cars and driving here are a little different. If you haven't been to Egypt before, you are welcome to come visit us and see both the pyramids for which Egypt is famous and the crazy driving for which Egypt is notorious.
In case you do decide to visit (you really are welcome), let me help you with a certain cultural aspect of this country. It will help you if you need to drive or even if you have the unfortunate task of trying to cross any street here. What I want to provide for you is a set of rules regarding honking. In the U.S., we tend to honk only once in a long while when someone is close to hitting us or after a close miss to express our displeasure. But not so in Egypt. Honking can mean a lot of things and be used in a variety of ways. I'll provide here an abbreviated list of when you should use your car horn.
Egyptian Honking Rules
Please honk your horn:
- When another car is approaching you from the front.
- When another car is approaching you from behind
- When another car is approaching you from either side
- When no car is approaching from any direction (in case someone is thinking of coming near you)
- When you are passing another car
- When you are approaching a side street and see a car entering the intersection
- When you are approaching a side street and don't see a car entering
- When you see a pedestrian (regardless of location)
- When you don't see a pedestrian (in case one is lurking in the shadows)
- When you enter a roundabout
- When you leave a roundabout
- When you feel anxious about something (anything)
- When you are excited
- When you feel sad
- When you feel happy
- When you aren't sure if you should honk, do it anyway.
In other words, honk! honk! honk! Just go for it!