What do the various headlight flashes mean?

The primary function of your car headlights is to improve visibility and allow other drivers to see you during low visibility situations such as at night, or during foggy, rainy or snowy conditions. That aside, flashing headlights also serve as a way for drivers to communicate with one another on the road.

Here are some of the ways and reasons of flashing headlights in Malaysia:


1. Notifying other drivers about high-beams

Some drivers may unknowingly have their headlights on high-beam. This may pose potential danger to all other drivers on the road as it may temporarily blind other drivers and lead to unwanted collisions.

It is advisable to flash your headlights to notify drivers whose car is on high-beam and coming from the opposite direction. Drivers should immediately check their dashboard to see if their headlight is on high-beam and turn it back to low-beam when they see headlight signals coming from cars of the opposite direction!


2. Overtaking

There are lorries and big trucks driving very slowly on the highway, especially during evening or night. Oftentimes, they may sway a bit due to long driving hours at very low speed.

Whenever you see such big trucks on the road, before you attempt to overtake, be sure to flash once or twice to alert the driver. This can help to prevent the big trucks from ramping into your lane while you attempt to overtake the said vehicle!


3. Requesting to move aside

This is commonly seen on highways where some drivers drive beyond speed limits. They will drive up right behind your car and tailgate you closely while flashing their car headlights aggressively at you. Some may even drive towards the right side of your vehicle and start flashing you to signal you via your right side-view mirror.

In such cases, do not panic and attempt to switch lanes immediately to give way! It is important to keep your cool and observe if it is safe to switch lane first before turning on your left signal to make the lane switch to give way.


4. Alerting other drivers about something wrong

At times, some drivers may not be aware of the unusual car conditions while they are on the road. Some examples include not properly closed doors, flapping car boot, flat tyres, dysfunctional car lights etc.

If you see many different drivers flashing at you, chances are, something is not right with your car. You should immediately find a safe spot to pull over and check your car. Be sure that the surroundings are safe before you get out of your car!


5. Giving heads up about police speed traps

Have you ever seen a police hiding behind a pillar with a radar speed gun to ‘catch’ speed limit offenders? Many drivers see these mobile speed cameras as a cash grab exercise by the government and seek to show their protest by alerting other drivers on the opposite side of the road by giving warning flashes.

However, you should never be flashing your headlights to warn other road users of a speed trap ahead as this is actually illegal and you may get into trouble if you are caught doing so!


Be cautious of how you use your headlights to communicate with the other drivers. While some are friendly gestures to warn other drivers about potential risks, some may be illegal or inappropriate (warning about mobile speed traps and asking cars ahead to make way to speed pass them!). Be a responsible driver today!