When a Truck Driver Flashes Lights, What Does It Mean?

Big rig drivers often have an advantage over the average driver. They sit higher and have a higher perspective than others, which gives them a better view of the surrounding conditions. Truckers also communicate with others through the citizen’s band radio and are almost always aware of things around the corner. Chances are you probably share the road with trucks nearly every day, and you’ve noticed them flashing lights. So what does it mean when a truck driver flashes lights?

Truck driving isn’t easy

A semi-truck driving on a highway.
Semi-truck | Getty Images

There’s a reason why truck drivers are required to have years of experience to get on the road, and that’s because trucks don’t operate as other vehicles do. There are particular safety guidelines that truck drivers need to observe for themselves and others on the road.

Trucking dates back to the early 1900s when air-filled tires were introduced. In 1916, the first cross-country road made it from Seattle to New York, taking an entire month to get across. Trucking has come a long way since then, and while it offers variety, job security, and allows a driver to travel frequently, it does come with its disadvantages.

For instance, the training required to become a truck driver is intense. You need to pass a background check, undergo CDL training depending on the type of truck you’re driving, and be healthy and fit.

Additionally, scheduling conflicts can affect one’s pay and time as it’s almost always impossible to predict the hours you’ll be working. You also spend a lot of time on the road for weeks, which chips away the time you spend at home. That, coupled with sitting in one place for hours at a time, affects your health, making trucking a challenging career.

What does it mean when truck drivers flash their lights at you?

Truck drivers often communicate with one another through a CB. However, communicating with other drivers can be challenging as few average drivers have a CB. Therefore, truck drivers resort to using their lights to communicate.

According to Broken Secrets, there are several reasons a truck driver may flash their lights at you, ranging from warnings to appreciation. Most times, truckers will double flash at drivers as a warning sign. Given that they use radios to operate on their routes, they will likely have information on speed traps or obstacles ahead.

They may flash their lights at a speeding driver to warn them to slow down. Another reason a truck driver may flash their lights is to thank you, especially if you made space for them to change lanes in busy traffic. This is easier than rolling down their window to wave or say it verbally.

They may also signal that it’s OK to change lanes as they’ve created room for you. This is especially helpful if you’re unsure how much space is between you and the truck you want to pass. Another simple reason may be that they are angry with your careless driving. Truckers drive hundreds of miles each day and, as such, have no patience for reckless drivers. They may flash their light at you if they feel your driving is unsafe for other motorists.

Is it illegal to flash lights while driving?

Flashing lights isn’t illegal in many states. However, drivers must switch to low beam lights within 350 ft. when approaching a car from behind or 500 ft. of oncoming traffic to maximize visibility and avoid collisions due to bright lights.

Additionally, state laws vary on whether or not truck drivers flashing lights to warn about police radar is illegal but some ticket the driver for helping others avoid the law.

RELATED: What Does G.O.A.L. Mean to Truckers?