Quick Highway Poll

I spend a lot of time on the highway, driving. In the last year since I have been doing the highway jaunts I have come to realize that most people don’t have the faintest idea that there is highway driving “etiquette”.

So my question to you today is – Do you know, when driving the highways at night, when to use your high beams and when not to? Please tell me how many years driving experience you have. When do you use your hazard lights? Don’t google to check – tell me what you know.


PS Please add other highway customs / laws that you think people don’t know about.

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7 responses to “Quick Highway Poll

  1. Oh, I used to drive quite a lot.

    The uses of high beams in North America:
    1. The main use is when the car in front of you is driving too slowly. You pull up right behind them, turn the high beams on, and try to blind the driver in front of you. This serves as a signal to the slow driver to move out of your way.
    2. When you see a speed trap on the opposite side of the highway, you flick your high beams on and off periodically to warn oncoming drivers that there is a speed trap ahead and that they should slow down.
    3. On dark roads, you leave them on all the time to blind those driving on the opposite side, and to blind anyone in front of you.

    The uses of high beams in Europe:
    1. When moving quickly in the left lane (i.e. the passing lane) to pass slower moving traffic, if a car is in front of you moving slower than you are and has space to the right, you flash your high beams ONCE to indicate that you are approaching and that they must move to the right to allow you to pass.
    2. On dark roads, you turn the high beams on to see further ahead on “blind” curves, but only if there are no cars in front of you with their own headlights on illuminating the upcoming curve.
    3. While driving on roads through mountain passes, you may sometimes opt to leave the high beams on for an extended period both to increase visibility for you and for other drivers. (Also on one lane roads,you must honk at every blind curve!)

    I generally prefer driving in Europe.

    • A little bitter about driving in the US, are we? Funny stuff. I think the etiquette you apply to European driving apply to US driving, though it may not be as commonly practiced (especially in the NY/NJ area.)

  2. I’ve just started driving, so I can’t really say anything. But as a new “backseat driver”, I started becoming more alert with how people are driving. One thing I would suggest is to keep some distance between you and the car in front of you, so that if they come to a stop you won’t have to make a short stop too, cause it really gets me nervous when I’m in the car with someone and they all of a sudden come to such a short stop that I feel like their going to crash. Also to stick to the speed limit, and not go 60 in a 40 mile zone.

  3. The use of high beams- only when you are not around other cars and your visibility is reduced. Once you see another car coming from the opposite direction, it is polite to turn off your high beams. Also, if you are behind another car, trun them off, they are not helping you anywayz.

    But seriously- the one that really gets me are those who sit in the left lane (the fast lane) and force you to pass on the right!! (NJ drivers- you know who you are!!)

  4. High beams: 1) to “flash your brights” at someone driving too slowly, especially in the left lane; 2) on poorly illuminated roads with very little traffic at night.

    Hazard lights: when pulled over to the side of the road only. In the city: possibly when standing in a no-standing zone. I have seen nervous drivers in rainstorms driving with their hazards on, but this is ridiculous.

  5. Actually, driving with the hazards during a rainstorm where there is little visisbility is a very good safety measure. I have seen meshugenahs flying down the highway as if there is little weather trouble around them, and other drivers freaking out and slowing to a crawl. Better to be visible, then in a car accident due tothe crazies.

    The hazard light trick is especially put to good use during a “white out”. Otherwise, it is impossible to see the car infront of you.

  6. Alright i have been driving for about 10 maybe more years now and a few things I have noticed. First let me say that I was taught how to drive by a woman who used to drive an ambulance so she was always about safety.

    High beams are supposed to be (this is the way I used them) used when visibility is low and you don’t have any cars around you. If by chance you start to see a car in front of you that is when you swithc them off. If you notice a car in the oncoming traffic once you can see both of the head lights, instead of one big blur, switch them off.

    Hazard should be used for emergencies i.e: mechanical issues requiring you to drive slowly, if you have to pull over on the highway, and a little known fact: if by chance you have a person in the vehicle that you are taking to the hospital because of injury or even a woman in labor you can hit the hazards and book it. In that situation you may still get pulled over but normally the officers are understanding.

    My biggest pet peeve is people sitting in the left lane. Technically, according to the law, the left lane should ONLY be used for passing. I recently had a friend get a ticket here in NJ for stay in the left lane for too long. She argued that it wasn’t a law, I pointed it out in the drivers manual that in fact it is. It is a law for safety reasons, if that lane is clear as it should be emergency vehicles wouldn’t have to honk at people to move out of the way, there would be a clear path to go around traffic. That lane is not for you to just sit in aand drive you happy way to where ever you are going, MOVE TO THE RIGHT!

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