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Discussion Starter #1
I was riding to work this week just before dawn so it was semi dark. On an almost empty stretch of Interstate, I see a biker going the other way. I judged it too dark to see a wave so I just flashed my main beam one time. No response. This has happened to me on a number of occasions on different roads (no response) so I was wondering, in the US, what would that mean to you under these conditions?

Some background: I am a Brit living the in the US (nearly 30 years). When I rode 'back home', a single flash was the equivalent of a wave and was possibly even more common than a hand wave. It also meant other things like 'go ahead' or 'you go first' etc. in congested traffic or cross roads for example. Also, if the bike had no headlight flasher, one would simply rock the Hi/Lo beam switch for a moment.

Your thoughts?

Cheers,

Derek
 

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I've always taken a flash to mean there are police up ahead.
Last weekend a cage flashed me and when I came around the corner there was a cow on the side of the road.
 

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Single flash could be high beam.

Multiple flashes from a car or another bike means danger ahead.. that could be a road hazard, accident, animals in the road or law enforcement waiting on some unsuspecting free spirit to come around the corner over the posted limit.

I take a flash of the lights as a warning.. not a wave.
 

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Headlight flash in daylight indicates hazard, normally animals like deer, elk, antelope or cows. Nighttime or dark is your blinding the on coming traffic with your forward lighting.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Any UK riders want to chime in?
 

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In the US, during the day it generally means either a hazard or law enforcement ahead. At night, probably a request for an oncoming driver to turn off their high beams.

In Mexico, at night it means (or at least least it used to mean) "I see a single lane bridge ahead, I'll go across first" - the protocol being that the first driver to get close enough to see the bridge would be the first to flash their lights so they get to cross first.
 

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+1 to most of the above.
I try not to flash anyone at night just to say Hi, but have seen bikers flash as in Hi.
During the day, it is mostly sport riders who flash as a wave, most others just wave.
 

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As said, the situation you describe would normally mean, "watch out" or "dim your lights, please".

In a situation where someone is trying to merge into your lane a flash means "I see you, it's clear, go ahead". This is a truckers' communication primarily. Their normal response after the merge is to turn off and on their running lights saying "thanks!". If you are trying to pass a truck and he turns his running lights off and on it means "the road is clear, go ahead".
 

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I’m pretty much on board with the answers above, but I’ll add one. When a motorcyclist warns another motorcyclist of law enforcement, I use the tap on top of helmet method.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I should add that it was not completely dark. The sky was turning blue, the sun was probably just below the horizon. It was light enough for me to see that it was a V twin. I would not use that method to greet another biker at night.

But it looks like the only one who recognises this as a greeting is from Europe.

Seems clear why I don't get a response here in the US. I will desist from now on.

Thanks for the input - after 30 years, I'm still learning things about this amazing country.

Cheers,

Derek

PS: I will always indicate with a flash to a trucker when it's safe to pull back in and almost always get the brake light 'thanks'. I consider that their use of the road is a right (their livelihood), while mine is merely a privilege.
 

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I have never taken the flash to mean a wave.

All it means to me has already been said.
-Police ahead
-Danger (deer or road hazard)
-Or somebody flashing to remind you to turn off your bright lights.
 

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As far as the meaning of someone flashing a headlight, I take it as I should be paying more attention to what situation I may riding into.
As far as the other rider goes, who knows what he knows, what he was thinking or if they paying attention to their ride or just didn't care.
On a similar note, in my area few riders wave to each other you mostly get a nod of the helmet.
 

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Short and sweet answer is "pay attention" of possible issues ahead. Could mean anything from a cop to an accident or some other kind of situation ahead. Last thing I am thinking about is waving to anybody.
 

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There is no way to 'wave' after dark. In the US you have the official waves and variations thereof (two fingers, 1 finger, low five, etc) and everyone has already explained the lights. The only one you have to watch out for is the single finger in the air wave by those sporting colors, those are never good.
 

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When I was driving on German Autobahn, I took a flash from behind as an advisement to move to the right
 
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A tap on top of helmet also means LEO ahead : )
 

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Well if it were me and I was riding in the UK and I was flashed, I'd think it would be someone saying "Dude, you're on the wrong side of the road". But that's just me. :O)
 

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I've always taken a flash to mean there are police up ahead.
Last weekend a cage flashed me and when I came around the corner there was a cow on the side of the road.

^^^^^^^^^ this
 

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I use a single flash to say to the vehicle in front I have seen you, and I am according you the right of way.
Multiple flash for when the oncoming vehicle has main beams on (combined with me slowing down)



Emergency vehicles have the regular pattern to say, you should be seeing me


UK Highway code
Rule 103

Signals warn and inform other road users, including pedestrians (see ‘Signals to other road users), of your intended actions. You should always

  • give clear signals in plenty of time, having checked it is not misleading to signal at that time
Rule 104

You should also

  • watch out for signals given by other road users and proceed only when you are satisfied that it is safe
Rule 106

Police stopping procedures. If the police want to stop your vehicle they will, where possible, attract your attention by

  • flashing blue lights, headlights or sounding their siren or horn, usually from behind
Acknowledging other riders a small nod of the head is easily seen.


Years back I noticed the lesser numbers of motorcyclists used to flash headlights as acknowledgement, and I would spend the next few minutes wondering if my lights were out, something obviously loose on the bike etc
 
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