Having lived in many South Asian countries, I’ve always noticed the “Horn OK Please” tagline on trucks and buses. Yet no one I know was aware of the reasoning behind the saying (if any). Having snooped around I found various theories behind this cultural phenomena – on a five minute drive you will be confronted by atleast 10 trucks proudly displaying the phrase “HORN OK PLEASE”.
Most of these theories were taken from Wikipedia –
- Trucks used to run on kerosene engines. The smallest of accidents would cause a major explosion as Kerosene is a very unstable compound. Hence a warning would be painted on the back saying “Horn Please,On Kerosene”.
- TATA is not only the name of a vehicle manufacturer, but also a common way of saying goodbye “ok TATA”. As most trucks already had the TATA logo, some truck owners would paint the OK on top of the logo. This logo was flagged on either side by the words Horn Please and as such people started reading it as Horn OK Please.
- Back in the day the TATA company also launched an economy detergent powder called OK. The brand logo consisted of the word OK on a lotus flower. To market the detergent the logo was painted on company trucks. Again flagged on either side by the words Horn Please was the OK (on the lotus flower). The branding somehow became a tradition for all truck drivers and owners and they painted their vehicles with the words Horn OK Please, long after the detergent exited the market.
- This final theory is the one I believe to be the most accurate – the ‘HORN OK PLEASE’ provides guidance to the vehicle behind :
- HORN: to overtake a vehicle ahead from the left side
- OK: if you are in the middle and following the vehicle ahead, all is A – okay
- PLEASE: to overtake from the right side, please proceed.