Vehicle Light Signals Meaning On A Highway And In The City

Your car is equipped with several lights to serve different purposes. These lights are useful for illumination, communication and notifying fellow motorists on the road about your position, presence and condition. With the light signal, you can express your next course of action on the road. Assuming nearby drivers are paying attention to the road, we can expect them to behave accordingly to the light signal. Drivers can use light signals to communicate easily and efficiently, without yelling from the top of their lungs, waving hand signals or honking their car’s horn.

If you make a mistake in communicating properly with your light signals, other drivers can easily get the wrong message. This could be very chaotic and can cause accidents, especially in high-traffic areas. For example, you may use the incorrect light to turn right, and another vehicle may collide with you.

There are inherent differences between vehicle light signals when used on highways and city roads. Understanding vehicle lights and their meaning helps you inform your intentions to the other drivers and read their intentions too. Hence, vehicle lights are a two-way communication model where both parties must understand each other. Drivers use the lights signals constantly. So if safety is your priority, you must understand what they mean to react accordingly.

Here are some differences in meaning when using certain vehicle light signal:

Turn signals

Some people look at turn signals as a courtesy and formality. However, it is more than that — it is a way of communicating easily with other drivers on the road. In most regions, using turn signals properly is required by law and citizens are expected to follow it dutifully. Failure to comply with this rule can subject you to punishment decided by the law and, even worse, can cause an accident. This ignorance risks your and other people’s safety. That being said, let’s take a look at the difference between the meaning of turn signals on the highway vs. city roads.

In city roads, turn signals function exactly as their name implies. They express the intention that you are about to take a turn on the road. Use your respective turn signal at a crossroad or intersection to denote which direction you want to turn – a left signal for a left turn and a right signal for the right. Doing this ensures other drivers receive the message and behave accordingly. Keep your lights on until you have completely executed your turn.

On highways, turn signals are additionally used to express the intention of overtaking the vehicle in front of you. Generally, this applies only to the drivers within the same lane behind you. This will ensure that the driver behind you doesn’t attempt to overtake you while you are trying to overtake the driver ahead of you. Use your right turn signal to announce that you will be overtaking the car ahead. Unlike taking a turn, once you are ahead of the vehicle you intend to overtake, switch your left turn signal to get back to your lane.

Turn signals can help drivers on the road and pedestrians on the sidewalks to act accordingly. It’s a good idea to check your mirrors and blind spots before you use your turn signals. Additionally, signal a little bit earlier, so everyone has sufficient time to notice your signals. Even if no one is around, always make a habit of using your turn signals because there might be traffic at your blind spot.

High beam headlights

Your vehicle has two headlights – a high beam and a low beam. They are bright lights that point straight to the road ahead. While this means proper lighting, it can also be dangerous for oncoming traffic as the lights from your vehicle can easily blind them. For this reason, high beam headlights are generally avoided in city areas since the lighting from street lamps, other vehicles, and other light sources are sufficient to provide necessary vision. However, it’s more applicable on multi-lane highways with low traffic. If you don’t see any oncoming traffic, it’s safe to use high beam headlights so that you can light up the road even more.

There is a technique with high beam headlights called flashing, used for communicating with oncoming drivers. By quickly flickering your high beam headlights, you can say that the oncoming driver has their high beam headlights turned on. This will tell the driver to switch to low beam headlights.

Apart from these lights, most other lights on your car have the same purpose regardless of the kind of road you are driving on. If your car’s lights aren’t working or for other reasons, you can choose to use hand signals instead. Using standardized and recognized hand signals could act as an alternative to using headlights. However, randomly flashing lights and horns are far more ambiguous. When you honk your horn or flashlights, your intentions are unclear. It can easily confuse other drivers, so avoid using them altogether unless you are honking to alert other drivers about your presence in an emergency.

Another thing to keep in mind is never fully expecting other drivers to react according to the light signals. Drive defensively. Other drivers may not see your signal, misunderstand it or not act the way they should. Nevertheless, due to all these lights’ signal benefits, it’s essential to learn, remember, and utilize them properly.