Assessment of honking impact on traffic noise in urban traffic environment of Nagpur, India
© Vijay et al.; licensee BioMed Central. 2015
Received: 23 February 2014
Accepted: 1 February 2015
Published: 12 February 2015
In context of increasing traffic noise in urban India, the objective of the research study is to assess noise due to heterogeneous traffic conditions and the impact of honking on it.
Traffic volume, noise levels, honking, road geometry and vehicular speed were measured on national highway, major and minor roads in Nagpur, India.
Initial study showed lack of correlation between traffic volume and equivalent noise due to some factors, later identified as honking, road geometry and vehicular speed. Further, frequency analysis of traffic noise showed that honking contributed an additional 2 to 5 dB (A) noise, which is quite significant. Vehicular speed was also found to increase traffic noise. Statistical method of analysis of variance (ANOVA) confirms that frequent honking (p < 0.01) and vehicular speed (p < 0.05) have substantial impact on traffic noise apart from traffic volume and type of road.
The study suggests that honking must also be a component in traffic noise assessment and to identify and monitor “No Honking” zones in urban agglomerations.
KeywordsHonking Traffic noise Vehicular speed Traffic volume
Noise pollution, a by-product of urbanization and industrialization, is now recognized as a major problem in urban areas with many adverse health effects [1-4]. The most important factors raising noise pollution in urban areas are vehicular traffic, railway and air traffic [5,6]. Vehicular traffic contributes to about 55% of the total urban noise [7-9]. The need for studies regarding urban noise pollution and its consequences on the environment has motivated various researchers in several counties including India [10-12]. Most cities in India have been facing serious noise pollution problems in the last few decades due to substantial growth in the number of vehicles, expansion of road network, industrialization and urbanization [13-15].
Assessment of traffic noise pollution is not easy and varies with types and physical conditions of vehicles, speed, honking and road geometry [16,17]. Estimation of traffic noise is more difficult in Indian cities considering the heterogeneity in traffic conditions including mixed vehicle types, congestion, road conditions, frequent honking and lack of traffic sense [18-20]. Honking is a common occurrence in India, irrespective of road types and condition, traffic etc. . Driving attitude which includes impatience, over accelerating, sudden braking, abiding traffic rules etc. may also aggravate honking. Kalaiselvi and Ramachandraiah found that horn noise events increase equivalent noise level (Leq) 2 to 13 dB(A) [18,21]. Therefore, there is a need to consider such diverse factors in monitoring and assessment of traffic noise as well as planning of noise abatement measures. The objective of the study is to assess and quantify traffic noise and the impact of honking on it in the urban environment of Nagpur, India. The study will help in defining new ‘No Honking’ zones in addition to assessing traffic noise and existing horn prohibited areas.
Material and method
The methodology of the present study is elaborated in following sections.
Traffic volume studies were conducted to determine the number, movements, and classification of vehicles at a given location and sampling period. Traffic volume was recorded using video camera and vehicles were counted by viewing recorded footages from cameras on computer system. Vehicles were classified as heavy (truck, bus, bulldozer, trailer, dumper), medium (car, jeep, auto-rickshaw, loading rickshaw) and light (motorcycle, scooter) based on their size and noise emission level. Auto-rickshaw is a three wheeler used as a common means of transportation in India. Noise emitted by traffic vehicles was measured as per standard methods [22,23] using sound level meter . Sound level meter was mounted on a tripod stand 1.5 m above ground level with slow response mode, frequency weighting “A” and data logging of 1 second time interval. Traffic noise was measured using sound level meter at a distance of 12 m, 10 m and 5 m from the center of national highway, major and minor roads respectively. Similarly, speedometer (Speedet Traffic Radar) was mounted on tripod stand for monitoring speed of vehicles . Noise emitted from a particular vehicle with corresponding speed was also measured and analyzed for noise-speed response.
An attempt has been made to analyze traffic volume, vehicle speed and honking with their corresponding noise levels. Initially, traffic volume was monitored for 24 hours to identify peak traffic hours in morning and evening. Later, two sets of traffic volume and noise data were monitored during morning and evening peak traffic hours. In the first set of data, traffic and noise levels were measured for 1 hour with 15 minutes time interval while in the second set, honking along with traffic and noise level were measured for 15 minutes with time interval of 1 minute duration. Measured noise data in two sets of readings were analyzed for equivalent (Leq), minimum (Lmin) and maximum (Lmax) noise levels. Leq was further analyzed in each time step to assess the impact of honking using frequency component of traffic noise recorded in sound level meter . A statistical analysis was performed to assess the impact of diverse conditions on traffic noise based on the relationship between traffic volume, road geometry and noise data . For this, analysis of variance (ANOVA) and correlation analysis were carried out to quantify the dependence of traffic volume - equivalent noise, honking - equivalent noise and vehicular speed - corresponding noise level.
Based on the analysis of 24-hour traffic volume, peak traffic flows were observed between 10:00 and 11:00 in case of highway and between 9:00 and 10:00 for major and minor roads in the morning. The number of light, medium and heavy vehicles passing through the highway were 3605, 1427 and 171, respectively during morning peak hour. The observed light, medium, and heavy vehicles on major road were 2338, 612 and 11, respectively while on minor road these values were 1587, 585 and 9, respectively. Similarly, peak traffic flow was observed between 18:00 and 19:00 for all categories of roads in the evening. Number of light, medium and heavy vehicles were 3552, 1663 and 138 at highway, 1861, 754 and 27 at major road and 1528, 611 and 8 at minor road, respectively.
In case of major road, highest Leq [76.7 dB(A)] was observed for 15th minute with most honking while lowest Leq [68.07 dB(A)] was observed in 6th minute with no honking in the morning (Figure 3b). For same number of honks and traffic volume in 4th and 11th minutes, Leq in 11th minute was more due to presence of heavy vehicle. Though Leq levels during 5th and 7th minutes were different, same number of horn incidents and traffic volume was observed. This variation may have been due to vehicle type, its physical condition and speed. Some contrasting results were observed at 5th and 6th minutes during evening (Figure 3b). For example, highest Leq was observed in 6th minute even though horn incidents were not recorded maximum.
Traffic and noise data on minor road during morning indicate that highest Leq [80.8 dB(A)] was observed in 12th minute with maximum number of horn incidents although traffic volume was not maximum (Figure 3c) while lowest Leq [68.4 dB(A)] was observed in 5th minute with least number of horn incidents. Further, noise level was more in 11th minute as compared to 6th minute with same number of honking and traffic volume due to the presence of heavy vehicle. In evening peak hour, highest Leq [74.6 dB(A)] was observed at 11th minute with maximum number of horns (Figure 3c).
Analysis of variance for honking and type of road on traffic noise
Degree of freedom
Sum of squares
Type of road
Equivalent noise without honking as per statistical and frequency analysis
Type of road
Traffic noise L eq dB(A)
L eq dB(A) without honking
Analysis of variance for vehicular type and speed on traffic noise
Degree of freedom
Sum of squares
Monitoring and assessment of traffic noise in urban environment is complex due to various influencing factors such as traffic volume, honking, vehicular speed, road geometry etc. Traffic noise was assessed in the urban agglomeration of Nagpur, India considering above factors. Impact of heavy vehicles on traffic noise was more as compared to light and medium vehicles. Honking is a frequent phenomenon in Indian road context therefore it was observed that honking has significant impact on traffic noise besides traffic volume and vehicular speed. Previous studies also confirmed the effect of honking on traffic noise [18,21,26,29,30] and used as one of the input parameter in traffic noise prediction [31,32]. These studies do not provide quantification of honking noise in heterogeneous traffic while present research provides quantification of noise due to honking based on frequency analysis of traffic noise. This was also confirmed by statistical analysis considering traffic noise and honking data. Using this, it was found that honking induced an additional 2 to 5 dB(A) noise over and above traffic noise. Further, increase in vehicular speed from 35 to 55 kmph also increases traffic noise by 4 to 5 dB(A) for all types of vehicles. The present study suggests that honking must also be a component, apart from monitoring of traffic volume and vehicular speed in traffic noise assessment. Additionally, the study will help in assessing existing horn prohibited areas and defining new ‘No Honking zones.
Authors are thankful to the Director, CSIR-NEERI for providing encouragement, necessary infrastructural support, and kind permission for publishing the research article. Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi is also acknowledged for providing the financial support to carry out this study. Authors also acknowledge Er. Ankit Gupta for assistance in statistical analysis and Ms. Trupti Mardikar for editing language corrections.
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