Request a FREE, No-Obligation Quote & Find the Best New Car for You - In Seconds!

Headlight Flashing: What Does it Mean?​

What does it mean when a driver flashes his headlights once or twice at you? Well, you can never be sure what the message is but the process of elimination will give you a pretty good idea. Below are a few things the driver could be trying to communicate. In some states, flashing of headlights is illegal. Be sure of the laws in your area before you start using this inter-vehicle communication technique.

"Go ahead"

If you're waiting to turn onto a busy street or merge into a traffic-jammed highway, giving you a little space and flashing the headlights is a polite way to say "go ahead, I'm letting you in." Of course, you should always make sure the coast is clear. Watch for cars that might be merging or turning from other lanes or from the opposite side of the intersection.

"Turn your headlights on!"

It's always a good idea to check if your headlights are on because the flashes may be a signal to notify you that they're off. At night time, this is a common message that is communicated with a couple of brief high beam flashes.

"You Should Slow Down"

There could be a policeman ahead, who may be measuring the speed of passing cars. Or, you may clearly be travelling too fast. In either case, high beam flashes from other vehicles could be a message telling you that it's about time to slow down.

"Be Careful"

Stay alert in case the signal was meant to warn you about a hazard ahead. This is less likely than the messages above but if none of those scenarios apply, perhaps the messages is one of caution.


A driver's first choice to convey anger or impatience would be the horn. However, sometimes flashing headlights is an expression of road rage. You can sometimes tell if this is the case by the way the flashes are signaled. Lots of flashes at a faster rate probably indicate some kind of impatient emotions. Try to safely get out of the way of anyone who is raging on the road.


Usually, yielding to allow a driver to merge or turn is cause for a quick wave as a way of saying "thanks." At night, it may be difficult to see a waving hard. Therefore, headlight flashing may be used as a substitution.

"You've Got a Problem"

If you haven't left your headlights off by accident but people are flashing their high beams at you, you might have a burned out tail light, a tire that's going flat, or any number of other problems. If there's no obvious problem, pull over and take a look or allow a driver to tell you what's up through open windows (but be careful).

"Coming Through!"

"Look out, I'm coming through" could be the message the driver wants to get across. Get out of the way as soon as you can if you receive a headlight flashing signal as a fast-moving car approaches. Although, you shouldn't endanger travellers in the other lanes. Wait your turn.

Get free car track or van quotes from all of your local dealers and find out who will give you discounts!