Author Topic: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?  (Read 9399 times)

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snowdragon

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2013, 01:44:59 PM »
A quick flash to let someone know you need to get by is acceptable where I'm from.

I'd have been on the phone to 911 if somebody did to me what that guy did to you.  That's called menacing driving, and it is illegal.

This - and where I am from the cops would have been all over that. 

Phoebe

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2013, 01:45:11 PM »
I will never flash to tell another vehicle their brights are on.  We bought a new car, standard lights, on our first highway trip we were flashed several times when we didn't have brights on.

The guy must have been high.  Sorry you went through that.

Seriously?  Why would you jump to that conclusion?

I think it's a joke. Kind of like "This movie made no sense--the director must have been on crack." It doesn't necessarily mean anyone really thinks the director was high on crack. It's just hyperbole.

I understand the theory.  I was *hoping* it was a joke, but oftentimes the leaps here are outrageous.

baconsmom

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2013, 01:47:56 PM »
This post made me realize how bizarre driving practices are where I live.  In my region, flashing your lights is considered rude.  It is preferable to pass on the right, which is probably a violation of our state's laws.  If traffic is too heavy to pass on the right, one should tailgate until the too slow driver moves over.  This is definitely a violation of out state's law, but it's just how it works.  If you are directly behind the too slow driver, and don't want to tailgate, then you should move to the right to allow the person behind you the opportunity.

You live in Colorado too?! ;)

OP, I was taught the bright-flashing thing both by my Idaho/New York/Connecticut driving father and my Arizona drivers' ed class. I never considered it a regional thing, but people in Colorado seem not to know this one, so it must be. (Weird "region", though.)

Regardless of you being right, the other guy was road raging. You were right to pull off and ignore him.
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GratefulMaria

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2013, 02:23:28 PM »
DH was active duty in then-West Germany in the 1980's, and the flashed lights at a slow driver in front of you were very common, as was flicking windshield wipers as an escalation if the driver didn't get out of the way.  The responsibility was to clear for traffic behind you, so that informed a lot of the practices.

My father taught me about flashed headlights to let in a semi (he learned to drive in New York in the 1960's), and I always thought the quick two-blink "thank you" from their taillights was very cool.  Am in northern New England now, and in our area people flash their headlights / high beams as a universal "go-ahead" gesture to someone (semi, car, bicyclist, pedestrian) at stop signs, crosswalks, lane changes, city, highway, etc.

Onyx_TKD

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2013, 02:50:57 PM »
Where I am, flashing your lights directly behind someone is very rude, but flashing to let a semi know he's safe to pull over is polite and helpful. We also flash to let oncoming traffice know of a police car coming up, or that their lights are not on/ brights are on.

The slamming on brakes and other insane stuff your guy did is over the top rude and illegal.

Same here.  Just because you(general) want to go faster than the person in front of you doesn't mean it's appropriate to make demands of them.  Flashing your lights is supposed to be for when someone is actually in need of a warning - like they have their headlights off in the dark, or it's safe for a semi to merge.  "Warning: I want to go faster, get out of my way," is not a legitimate one.

Imagine if someone shouted it at you while you both were walking on a sidewalk.  If your reaction is different on foot, then perhaps the reaction in the multi-ton steel box moving so very much faster isn't really appropriate.

I don't think someone shouting on the sidewalk is a good comparison. Pedestrians generally have a variety of ways to communicate to the people around them, from gestures to speaking up to shouting. People in cars have their options substantially pared down--they have their lights and the horn, and that's about it. The standard things one needs to communicate while driving are handled by the standard lights: brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers. The horn, as I was taught, is for emergencies where everyone needs to pay attention and react immediately, e.g., if someone is about to cause an accident. There are a few things that can be handled with a wave from one driver to another, but usually when both cars are stopped (e.g., waving someone on at an ambiguous all-way stop). There isn't really a standard way to communicate anything else. That's where flashing the headlights can come in (although it's clearly regionally dependent). My understanding of a brief flash or two of the headlights is that it means "It's not an emergency, but there's something going on that you need to be aware of." Common "somethings" are the fact that your headlights should be on, that your bright lights are blinding people, that it's safe to merge, or that there's a deer (or a cop) in the road ahead. Basically, it's a cue to look around because the other driver thinks there's something you haven't noticed and they have no way of telling you the specifics.

Personally, I think drawing someone's attention to the fact that people behind them want to pass since the right-hand lane is open seems reasonable. However, I do think the left-lane cruiser should be given some time to pull over without prompting (so if the car in the OP had just finished passing the trucks itself, IMO the OP should have waited a little to see if they were planning to pull over shortly after they got a little farther in front of the trucks). However, if someone remains cruising in the passing lane, despite the right lane being open, then reminding them once that others want to pass seems perfectly reasonable and polite to me. If they ignore the signal, then I think you need to drop it. They probably either don't understand what you're trying to tell them or they've chosen not to comply, whether for a legitimate reason or just to be difficult.

And of course, there is no excuse for deliberately trying to get someone to crash by slamming on the brakes in front of them on the highway.

ScubaGirl

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2013, 02:57:22 PM »
My father taught me about flashed headlights to let in a semi (he learned to drive in New York in the 1960's), and I always thought the quick two-blink "thank you" from their taillights was very cool.  Am in northern New England now, and in our area people flash their headlights / high beams as a universal "go-ahead" gesture to someone (semi, car, bicyclist, pedestrian) at stop signs, crosswalks, lane changes, city, highway, etc.

This, and the other posts that also mention it, surprises me.  I had a semi driver once tell me that he didn't like it when people flashed their brights to indicate he could change lanes.  Besides monentarily blinding him, it is something people do when there is danger (an easy and fast way to signal).  I was taught, and he confirmed, that it is better to turn your lights off and on a few times.

WillyNilly

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2013, 03:04:00 PM »
My father taught me about flashed headlights to let in a semi (he learned to drive in New York in the 1960's), and I always thought the quick two-blink "thank you" from their taillights was very cool.  Am in northern New England now, and in our area people flash their headlights / high beams as a universal "go-ahead" gesture to someone (semi, car, bicyclist, pedestrian) at stop signs, crosswalks, lane changes, city, highway, etc.

This, and the other posts that also mention it, surprises me.  I had a semi driver once tell me that he didn't like it when people flashed their brights to indicate he could change lanes.  Besides monentarily blinding him, it is something people do when there is danger (an easy and fast way to signal).  I was taught, and he confirmed, that it is better to turn your lights off and on a few times.

I think that's what they meant. The post you quoted is about flashing headlights, not brights (aka high beams). To me "flashing" in this context means clicking on and off.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 03:05:46 PM by WillyNilly »

Hmmmmm

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #37 on: January 21, 2013, 03:13:13 PM »
Where I am, flashing your lights directly behind someone is very rude, but flashing to let a semi know he's safe to pull over is polite and helpful. We also flash to let oncoming traffice know of a police car coming up, or that their lights are not on/ brights are on.

The slamming on brakes and other insane stuff your guy did is over the top rude and illegal.

Same here.  Just because you(general) want to go faster than the person in front of you doesn't mean it's appropriate to make demands of them.  Flashing your lights is supposed to be for when someone is actually in need of a warning - like they have their headlights off in the dark, or it's safe for a semi to merge.  "Warning: I want to go faster, get out of my way," is not a legitimate one.

Imagine if someone shouted it at you while you both were walking on a sidewalk.  If your reaction is different on foot, then perhaps the reaction in the multi-ton steel box moving so very much faster isn't really appropriate.
To use your walking shouting analogy, in my region flashing your lights to indicate you'd like to pass is similar to walking up to someone walking slower than you and saying "Excuse me."  Driving up behind someone and honking would be like walking up to someone and shouting "Get out of my way."  A quick flash of the lights is considered a polite method of communication.

artk2002

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #38 on: January 21, 2013, 03:15:00 PM »
I have never seen nor heard of flashing your lights to signal someone to move over.  I would find it very aggressive.
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oogyda

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #39 on: January 21, 2013, 03:18:43 PM »
Check the laws in your state/county.  In some places, it can be considered "Aggressive driving" and is citeable.  The fines for Aggressive driving are often severe as it's considered road rage. 
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EMuir

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #40 on: January 21, 2013, 03:49:17 PM »
I will never flash to tell another vehicle their brights are on.  We bought a new car, standard lights, on our first highway trip we were flashed several times when we didn't have brights on.

The guy must have been high.  Sorry you went through that.

Seriously?  Why would you jump to that conclusion?

I think it's a joke. Kind of like "This movie made no sense--the director must have been on crack." It doesn't necessarily mean anyone really thinks the director was high on crack. It's just hyperbole.

I understand the theory.  I was *hoping* it was a joke, but oftentimes the leaps here are outrageous.

It was totally a joke.  In my experience people who are actually high drive very carefully at about 20mph. :P

Oh Joy

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #41 on: January 21, 2013, 03:53:11 PM »
Legalities aside, and agreeing that the other driver 'shouldn't' have been traveling slowly in the left lane and was out of line in his road rage...

I would consider it an act of aggression, not courtesy, if someone pulled behind me in the left lane and flashed their lights.  Interesting that it was once taught otherwise, and not surprised that it could lead to misunderstanding.

ettiquit

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #42 on: January 21, 2013, 04:01:47 PM »
What would be a polite way to let someone know that you want to pass if it's illegal to pass on the right?  Especially if they're going 50mph in the passing lane when the speed limit is 75?

acicularis

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #43 on: January 21, 2013, 04:11:38 PM »
Interesting regional differences. If a car behind me flashed its lights , I would perceive that as an aggressive "Get the #@$% out of the way!", not a friendly "please let me pass." Perhaps that's because the only times anyone has ever done that to me I've been going at or above the speed limit, and they swooped up out of nowhere and started tailgating. Not that I'd respond as the driver the OP encountered. That was rather over the top.

I don't necessarily move to get out of their way, though. I've had a couple close calls when I started to move over, just at the moment the car behind me got impatient and lurched over into that lane at the same time (didn't they see me signaling?? They couldn't wait two more seconds?!). I hate having someone ride my bumper, flash lights, and honk their horns at me, but sometimes it's safer to stay where I am.

WillyNilly

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #44 on: January 21, 2013, 04:22:28 PM »
What would be a polite way to let someone know that you want to pass if it's illegal to pass on the right?  Especially if they're going 50mph in the passing lane when the speed limit is 75?

I think the polite thing to do is wait it out. Ok not necessarily forever, but if you come up on someone you want to pass, give them a mile or so (or 2-5 minutes) to notice, and get themselves over. Some drivers don't like being between 2 trucks, or want 4-5 car lengths both in front and in back, and it takes a while to find a nice spot to change lanes. Just because you want to go faster/get in front of them doesn't mean they have to let you pass immediately.

In the OP it sounds like they advanced on this car and right off the bat flashed their lights, hence it being seen aggressive. No doubt the front driver noticed a car was now behind them, yet OP's driver didn't wait for the driver to do anything, just jumped right to "move over NOW!" type signaling.