The Headlight Flash. What Does It Really Mean
The flashing of one’s headlights is something we have seen for years throughout Europe. It was, and is, used to generally signal the intention to overtake another vehicle. Kind of a heads-up and to ensure the vehicle being passed was aware of this action. For this use, nearly all the vehicles sold in Europe for the last forty plus years were equipped with a momentary headlight switch built into the directional signal.
This quick flash feature started to show up on North American vehicles in the late 80’s, early 90’s. Since then we have all witnessed vehicles on the highway, on city streets and in mall parking lots using this visual communication. The problem being, the headlamp flash is conveying a specific message. But who is the message intended for and how is it translated? Let’s look at some of the things this light flash may be saying.
- Police speed trap ahead
- I think I know you. Hi!
- Your lights or high beams are on and shouldn’t be
- Your lights are off and should be on
- I guess that isn’t the wipers
- Go ahead and pull out
- Don’t pull out, I’m going through
- Get out of my way I’m in a hurry
- Go ahead and cross the road, I see you
- Don’t cross the road, I’m here and coming by.
- And many more……….
Well, first of all, warning of a police speed trap in that manner is illegal in most, if not all, places. But, with a motor home or tow vehicle combination, it is highly unlikely we will have to be concerned about speeding anyway.
From the list of some of these meanings it is easy to understand the dilemma of the intended recipient. This has many times lead to accidents involving serious injury or death, not to mention thousands of property damage events. Many of these visual signals are not legal, are not supported by the highway traffic act and are not deemed a safe method of communicating a message.
So, is there a good use for this signal? Well, of course the I.C.C. application of flashing a passing vehicle when it is clear to pull in is certainly a valid use. Additionally, though not necessarily recognized as a legal signal, a highway flash indicating of a hazard ahead seems both practical and may help to increase safety. The hazards would be things like a vehicle accident ahead, deer, or the like, on or near the roadway ahead, or any obstruction on the road or traffic ahead.
Driving in today’s traffic requires skill and concentration, especially in a heavy RV or RV trailer combination. Part of that skill requires reliable input to correctly anticipate your next move. In most cases flashing headlights have no definitive meaning, but caution should always be exercised when such signals are present. Don’t add to the confusion by flashing your lights for anything other than the I.C.C. for passing large vehicles and to warn of a hazard ahead for oncoming traffic.
So, what’s your take on the flash frenzy of the roadways today? Have you ever experienced an issue for the good or for the bad when you have observed this method of on road signaling?
With A Flashing Thought - Lug_Nut - Peter Mercer