Secret Overtaking Signals


If you ever drive on a highway, there’s some unwritten signals using blinkers and headlights that you need to know.

Why?

Safety.

If you’ve ever been stuck behind a slow vehicle, you know that it can be pretty annoying if you’ve got some timings that you’re trying to meet. Some people don’t do well with this, and end up trying to overtake when it’s unsafe.

On the other hand, if you’ve ever been that slow vehicle it can create some nervous tension for you if there’s some vehicles behind you. You want them to pass, but maybe they’re unsure when they can?

Drive a long vehicle? Sometimes it can be hard to judge when you’re exactly clear and able to come back to the left hand side of the road.

Well, if you don’t have a UHF, there’s some things that you need to know. Not necessarily because you have to use them, but because you might see them. You need to know what they mean.

When I did my Heavy Rigid (HR) truck license, I learned these… and it blew me away how the very next time I drove on the highway I saw them. A lot. It was like my eyes were opened, and now I couldn’t unsee them:

 

1. A quick flash on the left: “Nope, it’s unsafe to pass”. You might see this if you pull out with the intent to overtake, but the lead vehicle sees something in the distance that may be a hazard.

2. A quick flash on the right: “Yep, you’re good to go”. A word of caution… this might be that the vehicle is actually about to turn right! Also, remember, the person in front may have a risk tolerance that’s very different to yours. What the lead vehicle thinks as safe might be very different than you.

3. A flash of the high beams: “Yep, clear to come back in”. By day or by night, this can be especially helpful for long vehicles to let them know that they’re full past, and minimise the amount of time on the wrong side of the road.

4. A left-right-left flash: “Thank you”. Because courtesy.

 

Now go buy a UHF!

 

These signals can be confusing to those that aren’t in the know… I’ve seen comments on the Facebook where people on the road have confused the meaning of the right and left flashes. Not good. Also, the law. In NSW for example, Rule 51 Operate indicator light contrary to permitted use is a level 3 fine for an amount of $183.

Understand these signals… but don’t trust them. Take them into consideration, but you have to use your own judgement.


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