How about flashing your brights irritably?

The in basket: Mason Mathews read in a previous Road Warrior column that honking one’s horn in frustration or anger, rather than to alert others to a danger, is illegal and commented, “Interesting. Is flashing your brights in these situations also illegal?  Or are they only to be used for visibility when no traffic is in front?”

The out basket: Going briefly to high beams to get a driver ahead to move, move faster or move over isn’t as expressly illegal as honking for that purpose, but there is a law an officer could use to cite for it.

Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol here says RCW 46.37.230 says, “Whenever the driver of a vehicle approaches another vehicle from the rear within 300 feet such driver shall use a distribution of light permissible under this chapter other than the uppermost distribution of light.” That means high beams  are not to be used when close behind another vehicle, though I imagine that law contemplates continuous use of the high beans, rather than flashing them.

Russ said that law “gives a framework for officers to use to enforce these type of actions. Is it a good idea to flash your high-beam lamps at other motorists?” he asked. “Not really. Is it legal? Not really.”

He goes on to say, “The WSP gets calls quite often from motorists calling in complaints about vehicles following too closely, flashing head lamps at them (presumably to get them to change lanes), sometimes honking the horn. These fall into the ‘aggressive driver’ and ‘road rage’ categories and as such the patrol discourages any of this type of behavior. In fact, our officers specifically seek out this type of driver behavior due to the potential dangers that they promote for all motorists.

“Patience, courtesy and common sense are not actual RCW’s, but they probably promote highway safety better than many actual laws,” Russ said.

So aggressive honking or flashing your lights at the very least can attract the attention of traffic officers who may follow you to watch for more dangerous behavior, like excessive speed, tailgating and risky lane changes.

I guess that just leaves turning your headlights off and then on again quickly, such as we do when we see a car approaching at night without its headlights on.

4 thoughts on “How about flashing your brights irritably?

  1. Left lane cruises are the most annoying out there. Its unbelievable the amount of ignorance of the laws on our hwys. I really like the folks whom motion to go around them, meaning to pass them in the right lane… They are asking you to violate the law while they too violate the law???

    On the hwy, interstate, etc., you are not to drive in the left lane. The left lane is for passing. Pass the vehicle and you too then merge into the right lane. Also I would encourage you to use your signals as well.

  2. If I flash my lights at you because you are going below the speed limit in the left lane that makes me an aggressive driver? I am on your tail because you are going below the speed limit. You get the hint and speed up some but do not move into the right hand lane and I would like to pass you so I flash my lights again and again you slow down but do not move right. By now the right hand lane is clear and so I move right and I become tempted to pass you but it is against the law. At that point it is safer to pass on the right and put you behind me, as I pass I see you on your cell phone, perhaps calling the police because I am a dangerous aggressive driver?? I give my horn a little beep to get your attention back on the road but you are completely oblivious of all that is going on around you. I continue down the road until I come to the next lolly gagger, put on my left blinker to pass, start to move to the left lane but there you are almost in my blind spot texting away. Of course I knew you were there all along so I start to change lanes anyways, but you speed up to get ahead of me. It’s as if you think the left lane is your own private lane. Once I move into the left lane you start slowing down at which point I give a friendly little blink of light that says ” hey maybe you should pay attention to your driving” You finally move right and as I pass you subconsciously match my speed and sit in my blind spot making it impossible for me to move right. SEE MY BLINKER? I KNOW IT WORKS. So I speed up to put some distance between us at which point I get pulled over for going six over by an unmarked trooper.
    Pretty much sums up life on HWY 16.
    Yah ,I am a really bad driver and really aggressive for flashing my lights to get another driver to pay attention.
    Yah, I honk my horn when the light turns green. How else do you expect me to get your attention when the light turns green and you are texting on your phone.

  3. While we are on the subject. Drivers who are out there with their headlights off. It’ not dusk, sunset, it’s dark, nightime. One of the reasons for headlights is to let other drivers know you are out there.

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