Tuesdays: Unspoken Etiquette

For the most part, most of city dwellers are familiar with the rules of the road….as they apply in city driving. Essentially drive as fast as you can, get there before the driver in the lane next to you, honk alot, there’s an orange signal between yellow and red, so on and so forth. Every once in a while some of us venture out of our cityscapes, past the suburbs and rural areas out into the country. Traveling from one city to the next. In places where roads are 1 lane in each direction and the lane dividers alternate between dashed yellow lines, double solid lines, and dashed with solid on your side or oncoming traffic’s side. On these ventures there is a technique whose practice helps making driving safe when passing someone, but both parties need to be aware.

Flashing. Your lights that is. I have travelled many a times where it was night time and I needed to pass the slow driver, so I flashed my lights. TYPICALLY the driver in front being passed understands this gesture and eases over into the shoulder (when available) and allows the driver behind him to pass. Apparently some people dont understand this dynamic of a relationship and do not ease over. In these cases you take advantage of the dashed yellow line, meaning it is safe to jump over and pass via the oncoming traffic lane. Obviously if there is no oncoming traffic!! The other version of the dashed yellow line is accompanied by a solid yellow line. This line jumps from one side to the other. If the solid line is on your side, it means YOU can NOT pass but someone in the oncoming lane can pass a slow driver on that side of the road. Obviously given that you aren’t coming at them in your lane!

This all would be so much easier if the slow driver in front of you just eased over allowing you to pass. A courtesy extended and initiated by a simple flash of your high beams. I also usually flash my emergency blinkers a couple times after passing as a thank you to the driver for easing over.

Flashing your headlights can be helpful for many other things….I usually use them for flashing fools at night in oncoming traffic that have their highbeams on blinding all of us headed in their direction. Also, I flash oncoming traffic to alert them of a speed trap up ahead. For you, is the flashing of the highbeams useful at all?

From Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headlight_flashing

“Historically, law enforcement officers give citations for headlight flashing under three types of laws: (1) laws prohibiting a person from obstructing a police investigation, (2) laws prohibiting a person from having flashing lights on their vehicle, and (3) laws prohibiting shining a vehicle’s high beams at oncoming traffic. The specific language of each law varies by state along with courts’ holdings on whether their respective laws prohibit headlight flashing. Additionally, although not legally binding, the state driver’s manual of some states suggests flashing high beams under specific scenarios (e.g. if an oncoming vehicle is using its high beams, driver’s manuals suggest a motorist flash his or her high beams).” for example “In Tennessee, flashing headlights to warn oncoming traffic of a police car ahead is protected free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.” where as “In Washington, high beam flashing is illegal. Washington law prohibits flashing one’s high beams within 400 feet of another vehicle, including using them to signal for any reason.”

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  1. It’s very good to see a like-mided, well-spoken driving/traffic blogger out there! That’s not the focus of my own personal blog, but I have recently just started, so who knows where it’ll go.

    Looks like I’ll just have to be following you. 🙂

    • Hey thanks…I mainly am focusing on driving on my blog because although most days are uneventful, It seems like I have some bad luck with my automobiles and figured I could rant about those instances on here as well as bring up topics like driving etiquette, cellphone and texting, speed traps, etc etc. Maybe revisit some issues in my past with other vehicles in case people have similar issues such as how the rear-wheel speed sensor kept going out on my 98 Dodge Dakota and what symptoms alerted me of this. How the part is about $25 and the dealer charged $150 to install it the first time…after that I did it myself in 15mins.

      • That’s usually where my driving posts come from – the occasional screwball on my way to/from work. 😉

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