Train horns belong on trains, not cars

For the latest phenomenon in pimping one’s ride, one need only keep his or her ears open and be prepared to go partially deaf. Just when it was believed that the pinnacle of car customization had been reached, along came ultra-loud, startling train horns that are put in cars dwarfed by the sheer power of the horn.

In the spirit of these types of “big-boy toys” that make “big-boy noise,” Matt Heller began, a company that has 17 dealers in the Tampa Bay area, according to Monday’s Tampa Tribune. is based out of Ocala and sells these earth-shattering horns. People are actually purchasing the horns, as Heller has had to move his business to larger spaces three times due to increased business.

It may be nice for people to have these horns for competition purposes in car shows, where everything is bigger and louder than normal and prizes goes to the vehicles with the most extreme modifications.

While driving normally down the roads, however, safety becomes an issue. A normal tap on the horn is sufficient in order to alert other motorists to things such as a traffic light changing. Yet when one taps on a Hornblasters horn, the intent seems to be to invoke a terrifying response from fellow motorists. Hornblasters’ Web site highlights videos with titles such as “Terror on the Streets Version 5,” showing frightened motorists responding to these 150-something decibel horns bearing down on them.

Heller said in the Tribune article that he later gets permission from his unsuspecting victims to use their reactions on tape, which in turn he uses to promote his product. Even though Heller may get permission from these people after the fact, he did not ask them if they would mind having their hearing momentarily impaired. Loud sounds on the road should be reserved for emergency vehicles and real trains, not vehicles equipped with horns that sound like trains.

These individuals who buy these horns are risking their hearing. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, the highest decibel amount that the human ear can take over an extended period of time is 85 decibels. Hornblasters’ horns can go as high as 152 decibels.

If these consumers know these facts, the question is: Why would someone want to install a horn in his or her car that could contribute to someone going deaf one day? Probably for pride and bragging rights – he who dies with the loudest horn wins.