When Truck Drivers Flash Their Lights at Each Other, What Does It Mean?

You pass an entire community on your daily commute and you might not even know it: truck drivers. Our interstate highways are filled with long-distance pickup trucks and delivery trucks, communicating with each other nonstop. Truckers use CB radios to check in with each other, drop warnings in Waze, and even use their high beam headlights to signal to each other. But what truckers mean when they’re in one can depend on the pattern they’re flashing and the way they’re driving.

Truck drivers flash their lights during traffic maneuvers

Truck traffic on highways | Thomas Kienzel/AFP via Getty Images

A common reason for truck drivers to flash their headlights, whether at other truck drivers or regular vehicles, is to apply for a permit. Imagine a semi-truck driver coming down a tall hill and using the left lane to overtake slower traffic. Then they encountered a slow vehicle camping in the left lane. The driver does not want to hit the brakes and lose momentum. But they also don’t want to lie on their horn. So instead they often blink their high beams, hoping the other driver will get the hint and move to the right.


Drivers may use this signal because they have just passed, a crash site, or other obstruction that oncoming traffic will soon have to navigate. Whatever the reason, the meaning of this signal is always “Watch out!”

Small truck drivers do not always have to use this sign. This is because they can also have their own CB radio and broadcast a warning to all other truck drivers in their area. But sometimes they just passed some kind of danger and do not have time to get to the radio. Other times they may want to warn regular vehicles that may not have a CB radio. In these cases, truck drivers will often issue a warning to oncoming traffic.

It is important to pay attention to truck drivers

A row of semi-trucks are waiting in traffic on the interstate highway.
Truck traffic | Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images

You can easily wander down the highway and forget that there is a convoy of truck drivers in the slow lane. But paying attention to semi truckers may save you from a lot of trouble.

Obviously, it’s important—and often required by law—to combine properly when you want a faster vehicle to overtake you. Integrating properly when someone lights their high beams is a good way to avoid road rage – and just be polite.

It’s also a good idea to watch out when oncoming traffic is flashing their high beams at you. Truckers and other drivers may try to warn you of an oncoming obstacle or a police officer, so take the hint.

Next, find out why some drivers turn on their headlights or learn more about it from a trucker:

Finally, learn how drivers of passenger cars use their high-pitched signals to signal to others:

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