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Why is ‘Horn OK Please’ painted on almost every truck in India?

Why is ‘Horn OK Please’ painted on almost every truck in India?

Wednesday January 31, 2018,

2 min Read

Anyone who has traveled on Indian roads must have seen the words, ‘Horn OK Please’ painted on almost all trucks. Even the best truck manufacturers area part of this list. While there is nothing concrete on the origin of the phrase, there are a number of theories which have come to light in the past few years. It is a dubious slogan no one in India knows the exact reason for.


Let us have a look at some of the theories behind this phrase:

1. Safety Measure to Overtake

Most of the highways in India earlier had single lanes. When a driver looking to overtake would honk, the truck driver would check for the oncoming traffic. The ‘OK’ had a bulb over it and if the road was clear, the truck driver would light the bulb as a signal to the driver behind to overtake. India has now developed, highways have multiple lanes, but ‘Horn OK Please’ has become a tradition.

2. OK stands for ‘On Kerosene’

During the World War II, trucks were used as conveyance and the word ‘OK’ signified ‘On Kerosene’ to alert the vehicles behind the truck has a flammable liquid. It issued a warning to drivers that any minor accident could also cause the truck to explode.

3. OK is separate from Horn and Please

The theory suggests that ‘OK’ painted in big bold letters indicates safe distance. If the driver behind can read the word, it means that he/she is at a safe braking distance, else not.

4. OK was originally OTK

It is said that initially, the term was ‘OTK’ and not OK. OTK meant overtake and was painted so that a driver approaching from behind would honk before overtaking. But, the letter ‘T’ being of the same shape as the truck’s panel would confuse the driver behind for OK. Later, the term was changed from OTK to OK.

5. Tradition

Since most of the trucks are painted by amateurs and people for whom English is not the first language, they continue painting the phrase thinking that it is some tradition. They feel that without the term ‘OK’, Horn Please is an incomplete sentence.


There is still no clarity on the real reason behind painting these words on the back of trucks. The phrase was banned by the Maharashtra transport department as they felt that it would reduce the practice of honking in the state.