Horn OK Please

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This article is about the phrase. For the song, see Horn OK Please (song). For the film, see Horn 'Ok' Pleassss.
Horn Ok Please sign behind a truck from Bihar
Horn Ok sign on a Bangalore truck

'Horn OK please' is a phrase commonly painted on commercial vehicles like trucks, buses or local taxis in India.[1][2]

The purpose of the phrase is to alert a driver of a vehicle approaching from behind to sound his/her horn in case they wish to overtake.


The origin of this phrase is unknown. Also, there is no official significance with respect to Indian traffic regulations. No rules in India mandate or suggest the use of such a "slogan" on a vehicle. Still many vehicles are decorated with the phrase Horn OK please.

In the early days, most of the trucks in India were manufactured by the TATA Group. During these times, Tata Oil Mills Ltd. Co (TOMCO) came up with a new brand of detergent called “OK”. And in order to market their detergent they used the motor medium very effectively by painting OK. This brand had a symbol in the shape of a lotus flower. Thus it became “Horn OK Please”. This carried on for a few years and as times went by the OK sort of became a part of the initial paint itself by the lorry drivers and is still being used by people without knowing its origin.

Though this may be the most likely origin, there are plenty of theories for the “Horn Ok Please” being into existence. One such theory has its roots in the Second World War where trucks were often run on petrol when there was a shortage of diesel. Petrol, being highly unstable in nature, would cause the trucks to explode at the slightest accident. Hence a warning would be painted on the back saying “Horn Please, On Petrol”. Gradually this became a norm and is still seen on most trucks even today.

Another possible explanation is that during the blackout on lights during the Second World War, if a car had to overtake a lorry in the night, it had to horn. For this purpose, there used to be a red light under the truck which the truck driver would switch on to signal that it was OK to overtake. It was the OK in the middle that would light up.

Yet another explanation (and probably one bearing some truth behind it) is that the OK is separate from the Horn Please. The OK is kept there in big, bold letters, to allow the drivers from behind to realise that they were OK and alive, thus preventing them from rash behaviour; in addition, the fact that they are able to read the OK is indicative that they are keeping an appropriate braking distance.

Another theory is that, the original words were Horn OTK (overtake) please. And since many times the T would merge into the paneling of the truck it got mistaken for OK.

Other countries[edit]

In Pakistan too, instructions are used in a similar manner, but with rather different styles and phrases. Like the phrase Horn de kar paas karein written in Urdu, often found behind heavy vehicles, trucks, and trailers traveling on long routes or highways.

India: They are two different sentences written separately. The original was at the middle on the back of the truck which is the theory of "On Kerosene", there is OK at the middle of the truck. Which had legal obligation those days.

Later Horn Please came into picture which was written as two words on back panel one on left and other on write. It was all by choice.

And then it started appearing as "Horn OK Please" and still if you watch carefully most of the places you will see them not in the same line. OK is always at the lower level. However over the period of time the significance went away and people started writing it at the same level.

As mentioned in the above article, there is no legal mandate on these sentences now however invariably you will see them on every truck in India.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rajini Vaidyanathan (2013-06-04). "10 things you might not know about India". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  2. ^ Mike Featherstone, N. J. Thrift, John Urry (2005). Automobilities (illustrated ed.). SAGE. ISBN 9781412910897. 

External links[edit]