it seems that few people grasp the concept of communicating with others via external car lights while in traffic. most don't even attempt it, while many who do get it wrong, which confuses others and puts them off trusting/using the system entirely. even though the people who need this are not likely to read it, i am making a stand. (i'm sitting.)

if it was not obvious, this is for traffic in the u.s. (and i guess canada). also, if you are already in the know and come across something unfamiliar, it's either a regional anomaly or (more likely) it is something i use and expect you to adopt because it makes sense.

using your lights to communicate with others - a primer


turn indicator - need i say more? use it prior to turning or changing lanes.

brights/high beams - only use for communication in short bursts or continuously if needed and far removed from any traffic.

brake lights - it would be nice if yours worked so no one just has to guess.

(if you see this, then..)

01. vehicle has headlights on, turned off, then on again
(a) if seen coming towards you, your headlights are not on and it is dark/rainy enough out that others think you should turn them on. it's your call, but it is done as a courtesy. react accordingly.

(b) if seen in your mirrors after you pass someone (especially a semi-) (especially if you are driving a moving truck, have a trailer, etc.), it means you are clear to move over back into the right lane. you should extend the same courtesy to truckers who are passing you.

02. emergency blinkers/flashers
(a) if coming from behind, it should mean (roughly) that one of the occupants in the car is about to or currently delivering a baby and the driver thinks a traffic accident is a good course of action. [it is just as likely to be someone trying to get across town for sex, crack, a movie.] it's good form to move over, if for no other reason than to save yourself having to invoke the "uninsured driver" clause of your policy.

(b) if seen in a short burst after letting someone pass you on the highway/motorway, it means, "thanks." this is appropriated from truckers, and is the appropriate response to 01.(b) above.

(c) if you are approaching a car employing said flashers, often the car is slow or stopped or otherwise impaired. use appropriate maneuvers to avoid being stuck behind them. alternatively, accelerate as much as possible and smash into them in the hopes that the ensuing fireball will burn the soon to be undead people inside before they fully zombify. be ready to carjack someone and or remove the zombies' heads should they come at you.

03. hung indicator/blinker
if someone passes you, gets into your lane, and then puts on a blinker they never follow through on, before you say, "look at this idiot," make sure that they are not trying to tell you that yours has been on for the last 20mi. chances are they are the idiot, but so be it.

04. brights/high beams (part i - flashed)
(a) from an approaching vehicle this generally means that something is ahead and you're being advised to slow down, especially if you are exceeding the posted limit. the most often use is to warn of a cop ahead (often a speed trap), it may also be used to give notice of construction, a blocked lane, an accident, traffic, slow bicycler in one lane, etc. no acknowledgment is necessary, though a wave (when visible) is appropriate. good form is to pay it forward in the future. [i generally use bursts of two to help differentiate between a purposeful burst of brights and the odd flash when going over a bump or irregularity in the road.]

(b) getting a flash or two in the mirror, especially on the highway, usually indicates that the person behind is traveling at a higher rate of speed and wishes you to move over so they can pass. sometimes it is legitimately your mistake for hanging out in the wrong lane or at the wrong speed, sometimes they are going very fast. such is life, move over if it is clear to do so. if traffic is a mess, you're fine where you are.

[(c) when seen on a car approaching you this can also mean, "hey," "i find you and or your car attractive," "i know you," "we have similar cars," or the ever popular, "my car is experiencing electrical problems and is speaking out of turn, but you won't know that and will thus assume too much about what i think about you or your car."]

05. brights/high beams (part ii - constant)
(a) when seen coming at you, brights having been engaged within your field of view, either you or the driver of a car very near you has its brights on. turn them off, and by this i mean, switch to low beams. if you are too old or blind to see with low beams, don't drive at night. if visibility is that bad, slow down and turn on your fog lights with your low beams if available. [i've decided that if i'm blinded to the point of being unable to drive i'm going to turn into the source of the light instead of away. that's justice.]

(b) another likely event when seen (either from ahead or behind) is that the person driving is the idiot. either they are driving with their brights or they had the bright idea to put hid bulbs in non-projector headlight housings. i.e. you are looking into the business end of a maglite (think hand-held lighthouse) without the appropriate lens or mirror to focus it. it is legal in most states to kill these people, so long as it is done in a cruel and unusual way.

(c) when seen in your mirror, it is likely that you are either going very slow and holding up traffic (especially in the passing lane of a highway), or that you just cut someone off who was traveling at a much higher speed than you are currently (this may also be accompanied by the sound of a horn, screeching tires, and cars crashing into you). if the former, speed up and change lanes as soon as safely possible. if the latter, speed up, change lanes if necessary/possible, and give an apologetic wave.

-- fin --

i said all that so that i could say, quit being so retarded. (do it, do it now.. and.. what's got billy so spooked?)

i guess, given this effort, i should do a primer on in-traffic waves and horn usage, which i'd have to combine as neither is as long as this.

if you couldn't tell i'm currently subscribing to the idea of writing helps keep one writing..



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number 9.. .   .? andy andy andy, get your adverbs here

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