QOTD: What Does It Mean When Someone Flashes Their Headlights?

You’re driving through the city, minding your own business, when all of a sudden someone in a car behind you starts flashing their headlights. What do you do?
Urban legends aside, the act of flashing your headlights or high beams at someone can mean a number of different things — which sucks, because usually the person on the receiving end misunderstands your optical horn.

For whatever reason, I have noticed many more drivers than normal driving around the city of Halifax without their headlights on.
When you are driving in the opposite direction as someone in Canada, it’s a lot harder to notice if other drivers have their headlights turned off due to daytime running lights being law here. Before the recent popularity of LED daytime running lights in new cars, most car manufacturers would simply rely on the existing bulbs in the headlight housing to provide daytime illumination. When DRLs first arrived, it was interesting to see how each automaker implemented their own solutions. For instance, most Chrysler products wouldn’t use the headlight itself, instead sending power to the amber signal lights. You could point out a Dodge Caravan from miles away.
However, when you are driving behind someone that doesn’t their headlights on it is much easier to spot. Since taillights are not typically illuminated even with cars fitted with DRLs, if someone’s taillights are off between the times they are riding the brake pedal in the twilight or darker hours, you know for certain their headlights aren’t on.
So, what do you do when you encounter one of these unknowing specimens on your local roadways?
Flashing my high beams at the other driver is a pretty effective way of telling them their headlights are turned off — just a simple double flick of the stalk — or at least I thought so in the past. Only about 1/3 of the unilluminated folks I encounter receive the message as it’s intended. With the others, when I have the chance, I pull up beside them at the next stop sign or traffic light, roll down my window, and attempt to politely tell them their lights are off. That covers about another third of these lightless wonders.
Yet, it’s the final third that seem to not want to be told anything. After flashing my lights and politely rolling up beside them to communicate their candlepower deficiencies, they absolutely refuse to even look away from dead-straight ahead. They are automatons. The act of driving is just a series of instructions downloaded from the Ministry of Transportation into their little heads.
Or maybe not.
Wikipedia has a whole entry devoted to headlight flashing and, before you even get into the meat of the entry, the second paragraph probably provides a hint as to what’s going on in these situations (emphasis mine):
The signal can be intended to convey a variety of messages, including a warning to other drivers of road hazards or of speed traps, and it can also be a form of aggressive driving. The legality of headlight flashing varies by jurisdiction.
Does this last third of drivers not using their headlights think I am being an aggressive driver? Possibly. They typically tend to be the middle-aged, helicopter mom types in three-row SUVs and what looks to be a permanent scowl on their faces. Or, shit, maybe they’re just having a bad day. Who am I to judge?
Yet, the fact remains, headlight flashing can mean any number of things.
Last night, Bozi and I had a short exchange on Twitter about headlight flashing after we both admitted to turning into grumpy old men.
Just unbuttoned my jeans while sitting on the couch watching TV, solely to be more comfortable. I'm now my father.
— Mark Stevenson (@MarkTTAC) August 6, 2015

@MarkTTAC I yelled at some teenagers yesterday for their shitty driving so I know how you feel
— Bozi Tatarevic (@hoonable) August 6, 2015

@hoonable SPEAKING OF, if someone flicks their high beams at you, what does that mean?
— Mark Stevenson (@MarkTTAC) August 6, 2015

@MarkTTAC based on what I learned in the old country it always meant cops ahead
— Bozi Tatarevic (@hoonable) August 6, 2015

@hoonable what if the person flicking their lights is behind you?
— Mark Stevenson (@MarkTTAC) August 6, 2015

@MarkTTAC too slow*
— Bozi Tatarevic (@hoonable) August 6, 2015

So, Best and Brightest, what does headlight flashing mean to you? It also might help to tell us where you live, as I am guessing flashing your headlights in Virginia means something entirely different than in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
The post QOTD: What Does It Mean When Someone Flashes Their Headlights? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.