Flashing lights to get someone to pull over: acceptable or rude?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 2002

Dear Tom and Ray:

My boyfriend and I are having an argument about people who roar up behind you and flash their lights frantically until you pull over so they can zoom by. I think this is rude, and he thinks it's perfectly acceptable. I will certainly pull over to the right if there's space to do so. However, most of the time when this happens, traffic is heavy and I'm already going 5 to 10 mph over the speed limit, and the joker behind me keeps flashing his lights as if doing this will enable me to pull over more quickly. This drives me crazy! When did this become an acceptable way to behave on the highway? Please tell me if I need to get with the program and accept this as standard, polite behavior, or if I can tell my boyfriend to never do this again. Thanks. -- Kathie

TOM: I wouldn't bother telling him anything, Kathie. I would simply dump his sorry butt. This guy's a jerk.

RAY: And my brother knows a lot about jerks, Kathie. He's self-actualized.

TOM: This is absolutely not polite, acceptable behavior. It's obnoxious, rude, testosterone-poisoned, self-centered and dangerous behavior. It's also illegal behavior, because when he comes up on another car's bumper and flashes his lights, he's tailgating. He probably doesn't even know that tailgating's illegal.

RAY: It's one thing if a person is driving at or below the speed limit in the passing lane and you'd like to pass. Then, if there's room for him to pull over, it's acceptable behavior to pull up (without tailgating) and give the guy a moment to notice you in his rear-view mirror. If he doesn't pull over, then you're allowed to flash the lights once and wait a reasonable amount of time for him to comfortably and safely get out of the way. But just trying to intimidate other drivers via obnoxious tailgating and light flashing is unacceptable, pure and simple.

TOM: And Kathie, you know it's only a matter of time before this guy's boorish behavior shows up in other parts of your life. Can you imagine having a baby with this guy? You'll be in the delivery room, and he'll bang on the door and say, "C'mon, Kathie! Push harder! I've got a football game to watch this afternoon!"

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