The reason why people tend to rapidly flash their headlights onto other drivers is rather ambiguous. Sometimes it can be a courteous gesture, or it can sometimes it can be an act of road rage. In order to correctly distinguish the reason, you need to consider a few key factors.
If someone is tailgating you in a fast lane on the highway, flashing headlights likely indicate that the drivers behind you want you to move over and let them pass. It can also sometimes mean that something might be wrong with your car, and they are trying to warn you.
It can also sometimes mean that there is a hazard up ahead, so be sure to slow down, especially if you are approaching a corner. In many countries around the world, if the oncoming traffic is flashing their lights, it can also mean that there are patrol vehicles or speed traps up ahead.
However, flashing headlights can also represent an act of road rage. If the person is flashing their lights in rapid succession while also using the horn, the person is likely frustrated. If this is the case, move over because engaging in traffic road rage incidents is both extremely ignorant and dangerous.
Courteous gestures – Increasing awareness of your surroundings
It is essential that you assess the situation properly whenever someone flashes at you. Oftentimes, it can suggest that something is wrong with your car. A few years ago, I was driving on a public road and my rear license plate fell off. The moment it happened the driver behind me alerted me with a couple of flashes.
However, most of the times when someone flashed their headlights behind me meant that they want to overtake me, if this is the case, you can always signal to the right to let them know they can overtake you safely. If you are trying to merge on a larger road, someone flashing their headlights can also mean that they are letting you merge.
If you are on a tighter country road or any other single lane road, if someone flashes their light before they exit the corner, it’s usually to signal you of oncoming traffic. Other instances where oncoming drivers might flash you if there are speed traps up ahead, or simply to say hello.
Road Rage – Sudden violent bursts of anger in traffic
Not all instances where people flash you are to warn you or to say hello, they can often mean the very opposite. Sometimes people tend to act aggressively if someone cuts them off, or if you are late to merge on a larger road, or you simply missed your chance to pass through green/yellow light.
If this does happen, try to evaluate if you are doing everything right, and be sure to stay cool and collected because road rage can often turn tragic. Many people tend to become egoistic while behind the wheel, and the majority of those people believe that they are good drivers, even though they are not.
As such, it’s never a good idea to test someone’s patience, especially after they acted aggressively. If you are not aware of what road rage is, be sure to check out a few YouTube videos on the subject. It’s a hazard for you, the person involved, and everyone around you, so be sure to keep your wits about you.
Laws about flashing your headlights – Illegal in most instances
Modern-day cars are often equipped with LED, Laser headlights which emit extremely bright and powerful light, so much so that they can easily blind oncoming traffic. This can be rather dangerous as people can endure such powerful light differently.
To make public roads a safer environment, public administration came up with a set of rules in an effort of preventing unnecessary and dangerous flashing. In some states, flashing your headlights towards oncoming traffic is legal because it’s considered a form of freedom of speech per the First Amendment.
However, in other states, flashing your headlights is mostly illegal, especially so if you do it on multiple-lane public highways. In many states, headlight flashing is illegal even though it does not align with multiple existing state codes. So be sure to use it only when extremely necessary.
Why am I being flashed by semi-truck drivers?
Semi-trucks and ‘’road trains’’ are extremely long, and truck drivers tend to flash overtaking truckers to let them know that they have passed the truck in its entirety. Sometimes it can be difficult to gauge if you passed the entire length of the truck while looking from the cabin, and they do this for convenience and safety reasons.
However, this can happen to regular drivers in their smaller cars because these truckers tend to spend a lot of time on the road, and they can sometimes do this to everyone who passes them.
Can I always drive with high beams turned on?
You should never use your high beams if it’s not necessary, however, there are modern, usually German cars these days that offer headlight assemblies that enable constant high beam functionality. These headlights are usually backed by Audi-branded ‘’Matrix Technology’’, and have been somewhat of a standard in the German high-end premium sedan segment.
These headlights are comprised of strong LED beams which go through numerous small mirrors. This means that these types of headlights can partially block high beams where and when they detect oncoming traffic or pedestrians and cyclists in order not to dazzle them.
Can civilians use strobe lights on their cars?
Strobe lights are only legal for cars that serve an important public function such as the first responders, traffic assistance, the army, or secret service or extremely long vehicles. These types of lights can not be used by civilians outside their private property.
There are some instances and types of strobe lights that can be used even on public roads, but it’s always best not to use them to avoid any sort of confusion while driving. Red and blue lights are almost always illegal, and any others that might mimic the police, firefighters, or the ambulance.