Are they true or false? Here we investigate the strangest and most popular myths of truck driving.
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What Does It Mean When a Truck Driver Flashes Their High Beams?
Have you taken note of a trucker flashing their high beams at your recently? Perhaps it’s a cause for alarm, a helpful heads up or an important warning. Let’s explore the tales and the truth.
The Myth: The Killer In the Backseat
There have been several variations regarding this popular story of truckers and motorists using their high beam headlights to intervene and save the day. Horror films like “Halloween” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” have used similar plot points. This urban legend tells of a woman driving late at night, closely trailed by a truck driver who continually flashes his brights at her vehicle.
The woman gets into such a panicked state that she finally stops at a service station and runs to the attendant for help. The trucker parks and follows her inside the gas station, where he makes her aware of the strange figure holding a knife in her back seat. Each time the villain had aggressively raised his knife toward the woman, the trucker would flash his high beams at the backseat murderer, prompting him to hide back down again.
So it is true? Some reports have linked the origin of the story to a 1964 police incident where the officer shoots an escaped felon who took to hiding in the back of a woman’s car. Snopes.com was not able to corroborate the story, but it has entered into urban legend and survives today as a popular myth.
Popular and factual reasons truckers flash their the high beams
- Warning: Speed Trap Ahead
- Danger: Road Obstruction or Accident Ahead
You may have seen a truck driver give two quick flashes of the high beams as they pass you from the other side of the road. Though not legal in some states, some truckers have been known to give a heads up for a police speed trap coming at you in the next few moments.
Perhaps there’s a large object in the road, or an accident just ahead. Some truckers in opposing traffic will flash their high beams several times as an indicator of an upcoming incident.
Go Ahead, Make Your Lane Change
Truck drivers will sometimes flash their brights to give you the thumbs up to make your lane change back in front of them. This is especially helpful after dark, when you are uncertain if they’ve even seen you pass them in the first place.
Thanks for Letting Me In, But Don’t Blind Me
The double flash of the bright headlamps is widely understood as a big “thank you” between all vehicles, often for letting them into a needed traffic lane. However, many truckers (and motorists) will tell you that this ‘thank you’ is better served during daylight hours, when high beams won’t have the potential to temporarily impair your vision.
Bret Aquila from the blog Trucking Truth reminds new drivers to “dim your lights within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle and when following another vehicle within 500 feet.”
Those are Not High Beams, Your Car is Just Low
Just because you may be seeing the intense glare of a trucker’s lights reflecting off of your rearview mirror does not necessarily mean that high beam lights are in play. Car levels will undoubtedly affect how much light shines in your face. Utilize that ‘night mode’ for your mirrors and avert your eyes, focusing on the lines marked on the road to keep your eyes on the lane.
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