What Does Flashing One's Headlights Mean to You?

… that’s headlights, in the context of driving a car. Sorry, guys.

I ask because I’ve heard it to mean all kinds of different things on the road, and want to know if it’s a regional thing. Like, this weekend, I was slowing down and attempting to let someone on my right merge in front of me. I flashed my headlights at them several times before they got the idea and merged. For my trouble, I did get the “thank-you wave”, but I thought maybe s/he didn’t understand why I was doing it.

How many different things does this signify?

In Spain it means either a truck/bus driver saying hi to a pal, or someone warning “speed trap ahead”.

It can also mean that the guy is trying to figure out how his headlights work. You see people do the weirdest things in ultra-brand-new or trial cars.

To indicate to someone who’s waiting to join traffic that you’ll let him, what we do here is signal left-right-left, very fast, while slowing down to let them in.
This is in Spain, and both sets of signals are illegal, really.

I’ve used it the same way you did, and around here the majority of other drivers seem to get it. I’ll also flash at a car without headlights on after dark, or if someone in front of me has had their blinker on for twenty miles. In this last instance, I only do so because it’s physically impossible for me to reach into their window and poke them in the eye.

I can’t think of any other times I’ve done it though.

To ongoing traffic, I mean either “there’s a cop ahead” or “turn on your freakin’ lights, moron.”

A couple of nights ago, I was first in a queue sitting at a red light and the guy who was the first in the queue the other direction started flashing his lights – in this case, it meant “that siren you may or may not hear is a cop car coming up behind you.” I was in the left turn lane and there wasn’t much of anywhere I could go, but it did let us know to stay put if the light turned green.


Also: You can flash your lights to say goodbye to a car you’ve been following. (The polite response, of course, being a quick double tap on the breaklights.)

Another example meaning is “move to the right hand land, slowpoke.”

As has been pointed out, another example is to let someone in when traffic is merging.

It’s all in the context.

  1. Speed Trap Ahead

  2. Turn your lights on

  3. Turn your lights off

  4. Turn your high beams down

  5. I want to pass you

  6. You are far enough ahead to move into my lane

It can mean:

A cop’s lurking up ahead
They want you to make your turn/merge even though they have the right of way
They’re reminding you to turn off your brights/turn on your lights

Headlights on during the daytime either means a cop is lurking, or their car happens to have daylights. On a holiday weekend it can mean “drive safely” – but I noticed the latter more growing up in western Kentucky than I do here in West Virginia.

Oops. “right hand lane”.

Not right hand land. That’s where slow drivers go off to die when their time comes.

  • I’m letting you in / through

  • Thank you

  • (to long vehicles overtaking) you’re far enough ahead to move in front of me

  • You just cut me up, you moron

  • Switch off the high beam, you moron

In doing a quick search, someone had said that it’s actually illegal in places to flash headlights at other cars. I think Florida was mentioned, but where else might it be illegal, and under what circumstances?

To me it means that I can get my gang initiation done. :wink:
I only use it to warn of radar traps and to let truckers merge on the highway.

Brain asplodes.

I’m going to have to drop this class.

Not a Mardi Gras thread? :confused: :frowning:

Interesting…I’d been hearing lately that cops are stopping people for doing it, too, but I found an article about a judge in Tennessee who cleared a driver of charges for flashing his headlights to warn of a speed trap because it was considered free speech.

  1. Cop up ahead.

  2. Road hazzard up ahead.

  3. You can get in front of me while passing.

  4. Turn lights on or off.

  5. Something a matter with your vehicle. Loose load. Dragging a chain. Etc.

  6. Stop. Used in conjuntion with #5 or when meeting some one you know and want to talk to them.

  7. Flashing lights or even brights fast or extremely fast. Extremely hazzardous road condition ahead like a flash flood rushing through a low spot. Or you’re going the wrong way (did this one in December of last year and January of this year.

  8. Flash brights to tell someone they need to dim theirs.

Concerning flashing lights to warn of a speed trap. Aren’t the cops out there to get us to slow down? Don’t we slow down if we get flashed at? Isn’t it about safety? So why is it illegal? :rolleyes:

Around here, flashing headlights basically means: “Hey, asshole!”

Said asshole is supposed to figure out what I want by himself.

All these responses, and no one has mentioned flashing someone with a padiddle? I’ve been a padiddle for a few months (waiting for it to warm before I change it) and get the flashes almost nightly.

So that’s how you spell padiddle!

I am also currently a padiddle, but am planning to fix it this week (I don’t have the “wait for it to get warmer” excuse as it’s plenty warm already).

And I no longer flash at padiddles because I don’t want to be a part of Who_me?'s gang initiation. But I do slap the dashboard for each padiddle I see.

I’m with Alessan. It’s up to the other driver to figure out why I’m flashing.

Aiding and abetting? :dubious: