Author Topic: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?  (Read 8459 times)

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Ida

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #60 on: January 21, 2013, 08:55:31 PM »
Briefly flashing headlights at the car in front of you to ask them to move over is quite common out in California.

Not just common; it's legal and perfectly polite here. You might see an official CalTrans sign along some highways, approximately "Blink = -->" "Move over!" The CHP says it's NOT up to motorists to enforce speed limits by driving more slowly in the left lane than other traffic, because that's way unsafe.

If you're in the left lane, "just want(ing) to go faster" isn't the whole story. Being slowed down in the left lane because the driver ahead of you is going more slowly than the traffic behind you -- even traffic you can't see yet -- is a good way to get rear-ended.
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artk2002

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #61 on: January 21, 2013, 09:41:50 PM »
Briefly flashing headlights at the car in front of you to ask them to move over is quite common out in California.

I've been a licensed driver in California for 36 years and I dispute that it's at all common here.  Certainly not in any major metropolitan area.
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Judah

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #62 on: January 21, 2013, 10:52:27 PM »
I've lived in California my whole life. From L.A. to the Inland Empire, and from the Golden Gate to the Sierras. Flashing headlights lights as a signal to pass has always been standard.
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Lynnv

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #63 on: January 21, 2013, 10:55:28 PM »
Briefly flashing headlights at the car in front of you to ask them to move over is quite common out in California.

I've been a licensed driver in California for 36 years and I dispute that it's at all common here.  Certainly not in any major metropolitan area.

I just finished a year working in CA (all over LA and San Diego mostly, but with stints in Sacramento, Stockton and San Francisco) and I never saw it either. 
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silvercelt

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #64 on: January 21, 2013, 11:21:01 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.

What is the other driver supposed to notice?  That I'm behind them?  How will they know I want to pass if I don't do anything?

I tend not to flash my lights if I can see it would be difficult for the person to move over, and even when I do flash them I don't expect them to move immediately. 

This is interesting: http://www.mit.edu/~jfc/right.html

In my state, you're allowed to stay in the left lane if you drive the speed limit.  If you go under, it's illegal.

Regardless, it's good to know that the light flashing isn't a global practice!

The same is true here- left lane driving is fine, as long as you are driving the speed limit.  It drives me insane when I'm actually driving within 5 miles over the speed limit and someone drives up behind me and starts flashing their lights at me.  Left lane driving does not mean "I can do 95 and everyone going slower had better get out of my way!", as so many people here seem to think it does.

hyzenthlay

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #65 on: January 21, 2013, 11:25:43 PM »
I learned to drive down by LA and thought it was common, but it's possible I picked it up from my parents.

I think the real problem is that people driving slowly in the left lane are probably more likely to be special snowflakes to begin with, certainly those driving below the speed limit.

I've used the flashing once or twice, but I usually just pass on the right if I can.  I do greatly appreciate a flash from behind asking me to move over rather then being tailgated, and I always move over as promptly as possible.  (And around here the speed limit in the left lane is relatively slow, we got lots and lots of miles to cover in the southwest  ;D)

Mental Magpie

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #66 on: January 21, 2013, 11:55:17 PM »
PA transplant to CO, and I've never heard of this.  I even lived in MO for 2 years and never saw it.  However, if someone came up behind me and did this, the first thing I would do is check my speedometer.  If I was going under, I would understand what it meant and would move over at my earliest convenience (ie when I felt it was safe).  If I was going over, I would ignore it.  I would not find it aggressive until I could not see the person's front bumper in my rearview mirror.

Oh, and just because most people would see someone coming up behind them at a greater rate of speed does not mean they would move over when it was safe to do so.  I have seen many, many, many drivers stay exactly where they are in the left lane (despite it being illegal in many places) while a few cars pass them on the right, then continue to stay there even though there is no one waiting to pass them (I passed them on the right because I got tired of waiting, the car behind me did the same thing, then there is no one else on the road for a mile or so yet they stay in the left lane continuing to go under the speed limit).

A PP said that flashing lights is never OK because it isn't another driver's responsibility to let you know what your responsibilities are....except here, and in many places, flashing lights from oncoming traffic can simply mean there is large game in the road so be careful!
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Shoo

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #67 on: January 21, 2013, 11:57:47 PM »
Those of you who have never witnessed this are probably not the kind of driver other drivers have to flash their lights at!  :) 

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Mental Magpie

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #68 on: January 22, 2013, 12:01:40 AM »
Those of you who have never witnessed this are probably not the kind of driver other drivers have to flash their lights at!  :) 

That's a good thing!

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Bijou

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #69 on: January 22, 2013, 02:24:38 AM »
The only time I consider it polite to flash your headlights at someone is when you notice that someone approaching you from the opposite direction. Then it's a warning to them to turn on their headlights.

That said, this guy's response was WAY over the top, but you already know that. I'm glad you and DP are ok and were able to get away from him.
I agree about signaling someone to turn on their headlights.  Otherwise, having a car coming from behind flashing their lights and those lights hitting your rear view mirror can be startling and sometimes dangerous, not to mention the road rage factor you, as the light flasher, may run into, as above.   
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CakeEater

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #70 on: January 22, 2013, 03:15:07 AM »
PA transplant to CO, and I've never heard of this.  I even lived in MO for 2 years and never saw it.  However, if someone came up behind me and did this, the first thing I would do is check my speedometer.  If I was going under, I would understand what it meant and would move over at my earliest convenience (ie when I felt it was safe).  If I was going over, I would ignore it.  I would not find it aggressive until I could not see the person's front bumper in my rearview mirror.

Oh, and just because most people would see someone coming up behind them at a greater rate of speed does not mean they would move over when it was safe to do so.  I have seen many, many, many drivers stay exactly where they are in the left lane (despite it being illegal in many places) while a few cars pass them on the right, then continue to stay there even though there is no one waiting to pass them (I passed them on the right because I got tired of waiting, the car behind me did the same thing, then there is no one else on the road for a mile or so yet they stay in the left lane continuing to go under the speed limit).
A PP said that flashing lights is never OK because it isn't another driver's responsibility to let you know what your responsibilities are....except here, and in many places, flashing lights from oncoming traffic can simply mean there is large game in the road so be careful!

I argue that those who don't move over are the people who aren't going to take kindly to being 'told' to do so by the driver behind flashing at them, as in the OP.

oogyda

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #71 on: January 22, 2013, 08:21:04 AM »

I also dislike the practise of flashing lights to 'help' other drivers on the road. Drivers shouldn't be relying on other road users generally to be able to drive safely. If a semi-driver can't see where their back end is, they shouldn't be overtaking. They shouldn't need anyone's assistance to see when it's safe to pull in. Plus, as we've seen in this thread, the driver could be flashing for any number of reasons. The truck driver should just take your 'word' for it that it's safe?

 

It's not so much the idea of them needing assistance, but more of an indication that I'm not going to barrel up alongside them.  Many people will increase their speed when they see that a semi is about to get in front of them. 
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oogyda

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #72 on: January 22, 2013, 08:22:19 AM »
I'm really curious about the concept of a flash of the lights being aggressive or threatening since it has been part of my cultural driving norm forever.  For those who do see it as aggressive driving, is it because you've experienced it accompanied with tailgating or someone speeding up on you very fast? 

 

It's because I've reviewed the laws for jurisdiction I am in.
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Mental Magpie

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #73 on: January 22, 2013, 08:29:43 AM »
PA transplant to CO, and I've never heard of this.  I even lived in MO for 2 years and never saw it.  However, if someone came up behind me and did this, the first thing I would do is check my speedometer.  If I was going under, I would understand what it meant and would move over at my earliest convenience (ie when I felt it was safe).  If I was going over, I would ignore it.  I would not find it aggressive until I could not see the person's front bumper in my rearview mirror.

Oh, and just because most people would see someone coming up behind them at a greater rate of speed does not mean they would move over when it was safe to do so.  I have seen many, many, many drivers stay exactly where they are in the left lane (despite it being illegal in many places) while a few cars pass them on the right, then continue to stay there even though there is no one waiting to pass them (I passed them on the right because I got tired of waiting, the car behind me did the same thing, then there is no one else on the road for a mile or so yet they stay in the left lane continuing to go under the speed limit).
A PP said that flashing lights is never OK because it isn't another driver's responsibility to let you know what your responsibilities are....except here, and in many places, flashing lights from oncoming traffic can simply mean there is large game in the road so be careful!

I argue that those who don't move over are the people who aren't going to take kindly to being 'told' to do so by the driver behind flashing at them, as in the OP.

No, because I do not flash my lights at those people nor do I tailgate them, and yet they continue to ride in the left hand lane oblivious to what traffic is doing around them.
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ettiquit

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Re: Flashing your lights - rude, or communication?
« Reply #74 on: January 22, 2013, 09:05:31 AM »


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?

To me the key isn't *if* you flash the lights. It's how/when that determines whether it feels aggressive or a friendly heads up. If you do it immediately upon coming up behind a car: aggressive. If you are tailgating/following closely: aggressive. If there is another legal option for you to pass: aggressive. If they are going the speed limit on a 1 lane road and you want them to speed up: aggressive.

But if them moving out of the passing lane is the only legal option for passing, you have been behind them for a little while and they haven't noticed you, you are at least 1 car length back per 10mph, and traffic in the right hand lane is nonexistant, then I think its more likely to be interpreted as a friendly "hey, I'm behind you".

It's sort of like honking at a green light. If you are the second car back at a light and you honk the instant the light turns because the car in front of you hasn't started moving, its rude. But if you wait and its clear that they haven't noticed the light change, a light and short tap to make them look up is okay.

Ok, this makes sense.  And yeah, I never immediately flash my lights.  I give them a few minutes to see if they'll realize they should be getting over.