Jul 142010

Keep your raincoats buttoned up, you perverts! That’s not what I’m talking about!

Do you flash your headlights to let truckers and other RVs know it is safe to pull back into the lane ahead of you after they pass? I’m curious. If you do (and we all should), how many of them blink their marker lights or tap their brake lights to say thank you?

That used to be the norm, from the days I first started driving, but it seems to me that fewer and fewer truckers take the time to send this little thank you message these days. Why is that? Have the truckers changed, or has society in general changed that much, that not many people bother to acknowledge simple courtesies any more?

Or, are we part of the problem ourselves? Do we alienate a lot of truckers by our actions?

I’ve noticed lately that a lot of RVers don’t seem to understand basic etiquette. Things like pulling away from the fuel pump at a truck stop when done, so the next fellow in line can fill his tank. Over and over we see RVs blocking the fuel islands while the wife or husband goes inside to pay, and some trucker sits there waiting to get back on the road. I’ve seen more than one RVer fill his tank, then wash his windshield, and then go inside to pay, while the wife sits in her seat and never steps outside. That’s just wrong.

When we pull up to a fuel island, Terry goes inside to pay if they won’t take a credit card at the pump, and then while I am filling the tank, she cleans the windshield. As soon as the tank is full, she goes back inside to settle our bill and get a receipt, while I pull far enough forward to clear the pump with our motorhome and van.

We have spent many nights parked at truck stops, and when we do, we always park in the designated RV area, if they have one. If not, we get as far away and as far over to the side as we can, both to give the truckers room to park, and because it’s usually a little quieter.

Now that we have a motorhome with a much more powerful engine than our old bus conversion had, I will admit that I do gloat when I pass an eighteen wheeler on a long hill. But, I also watch my rear view mirror, and if I see another truck coming in the left lane, I’ll stay over and wait to pass slower traffic until he has gone on by. I can regain my momentum faster than a heavily loaded truck, and I don’t want to slow them down. These are working men and women!

On the road, whenever we see an eighteen wheeler coming up the onramp, we get over to the left or center lane if we can, so they can build up speed before they merge into traffic. I have noticed, however, that even when we do this to make their lives easier, not many truckers signal a thank you.

But that’s okay, I still do my thing. I just enjoy being a flasher.

Thought For The Day – Where do forest rangers go to “get away from it all?”

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Nick Russell

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  22 Responses to “Are You A Flasher?”

  1. Since becoming the co-driver of a 40 foot diesel pusher I’ve also become a lot more aware of 18 wheelers. When I am first in the left-turn lane, I always stop way back to let a truck have more room for his left turn. And I also do this when driving our 4-wheeler.

    We do everything you do when taking on fuel, except clean the windshield. We never use the RV pumps, the rigs in the truck islands are much more courteous than many RVers. And, since our tank holds 194 gallons, we belong at those pumps.

    Lastly, we buy fuel from large, major brand plazas but do not plan our driving to take advantage of loyalty cards. We ARE on a budget, but the few pennies they toss our way just are not worth the hassle IMHO.

  2. Sorry Nick, I just couldn’t relate to your post today. You see, I’m a Jersey girl and we don’t pump our own gas. We just sit there while the attendant fills the tank, then comes to us for the money. No really, I do relate. I usually am the one to go inside to pay while Lenny fills the tank. And we are both “flashers” Have a great day.

  3. I, too, am proud to admit I’m a flasher. Anything bigger than a car gets my respect on the road. I will move over, back up, slow down, stop, etc. Whatever it takes to get out of their way. Drove truck for several years and know big rigs are a handful. WE were just talking the other day about how disrespectful and inconsiderate many people are these days. Whatever happened to kindness and consideration for others.
    Every day people race me on the way home because they know the lane they are in is closed. I let them cut me off and wonder if they get some sort of satisfaction that they are now in front of me and will get to that next light first. Why not just get in the right lane when you see the signs saying your lane is closed. Maybe it’s the thrill of them knowing they are puting their lives, and that of my family, in danger by flying past me and whipping into my lane within inches of my bumper. Some day they will do that to a big rig and you might just see them on the news.
    (climbing down off soapbox, quietly)

  4. We are definitely flashers! And we have found that truckers in the west generally seem to be more courteous with their thank yous than those in the east. But even if they don’t flash to let us know we can get over, we always thank them when we do pull in front of them.

  5. Yep, we are flashers too. Most long haul truckers will thank you. It’s the short haul or inner city trucks which are in a hurry and do not respond. We just hate big cities. It seems everyone, cars and trucks, are in such a hurry. And they cut you off. And they speed. And they are dangerous. Worst is a young female on the cell phone or fixing her makeup or hair and she is speeding and cutting in and out of traffic. I am a female so I can say it, they are dangerous.
    We have decided on interstates to use the middle lane of the three lanes or the second lane in from the right while in big cities. This keeps us away from the coming in and going out of vehicles and keeps us out of the fast lane/s. We have noticed that the truckers are starting to do the same. Otherwise we travel between 55 and 60 mph and usually just set the cruise control, stay in the right lane and out of every ones way.
    And yes, we too try to minimize our stay in the truck fill up area. We use the truck fill up lanes in Flying Js because the RV island can be really small and congested as well as the fact we have a 150 gallon diesel fuel tank. It is faster to fill up in the truck lane and we then don’t have any congestion problems in the RV/car area. The truckers are usually very receptive of us, will talk about where they came from and where they are going. This gives us information about the road ahead. They are also curious about our rig and ask questions. It’s good PR for trucker/Rver relations.

  6. Boy, did you ever say a mouthful! John’s grandfather and several uncles were truck drivers and he was made aware of these things as part of his driver training. We were both brought up to show courtesy to others as a matter of respect. We flash, pull over to the next lane to let cars/trucks enter the highway, pull ahead after filling up, etc. About 30% of them flash back. But we have been told that many of the truckers these days are foreign born and, perhaps, they aren’t familiar with these courtesies. We wonder too if truckers show their resentment for RVers when they know we are driving these large vehicles without the need for special licensing. Nonetheless, we feel too that these drivers are making a living and we need to make way for them on the road. We use our CB also and will answer some when they request a “radio check” or have questions about a highway we have knowledge of. Yes, we find that simple courtesies aren’t being shown as much as they used to be but we extend them anyway. Hopefully our courtesy may make someone feel better at that moment.

  7. Our new MH doesn’t allow for flashing and we miss it. Some states we were told it is illegal to flash. If you flash ok and something happens to cause an accident you could be held responsible. We were flashed back just a couple of days ago and we hadn’t done anything. Perhaps he was just friendly. Once we were on a long stretch of narrow road and I radioed the trucker behind us that when it was clear for him to pass I’d let him know. We frequently pull over when able when more than 3 or 4 cars line up behind us. Do that even when in the car. Wish other rver’s would do that. I alway say it’s not the rv causing the lineup it’s the vehicle just behind that won’t pass that causes it as the 3rd vehicle then has to pass both.

  8. We can’t flash, as both our toad and the MH have automatic lights that are ON whenever the parking brake is off. Very awkward to try to blink just the running lights. When we lived in the San Frncisco area, it had become the rule NOT to flash, especially in city traffic, as some gang people seemed to take that has a challenge or an offense.

    Still, Suzy does try to flash a thank you on the highway in the motorhome. Not sure if it works or not.

  9. I always try to be courteous to 18-wheelers, moving over, blinking my lights for them, etc. In my experience, most blink back and if some don’t, I’ll still continue to blink (daddy was a truck driver – it’s just the way I was raised I guess). We pull over to let others pass our MH when necessary.

    We had a very unusual experience with RVers at the Cody, WY Walmart recently. We had heard they were RV friendly, and it’s true. However, I wonder how long that will last. I stopped counting RV’s when I reached 50. This is some of what I observed: a travel trailer with all 4 occupants outside playing the corn hole game, a motorhome with 4 people sitting outside on a blanket in the grass having a picnic, kids running around, a guy sitting outside in his lounge chair apparently working on his tan, people setting their trash bags on the ground next to the small trash containers beside the cart rack, saw someone with a grill outside but didn’t seem them fire it up, people walking dogs and not picking up after them.

    You can’t fix stupid.

  10. My motorhome isn’t set up for flashing. The headlight switch is not illuminated and it’s hard to find in the dark. I can’t turn off the maker lights without also turning off the headlights. I do flash my brights when a trucker can get back over. When truckers do it for me, I just say a quick prayer of thanks for them and keep my hands on the wheel.

  11. Yes…I am a flasher too. Been flashing since we started out in 2005. But have noticed less and less truckers flashing back after they pass. Just figured they are pissed that they have to pass us in the first place. If I can’t get over into the next lane when someone is trying to get on the road, I will slow up amd flash my lights to let they know to get on. But then there are people who have no idea what I am trying to do and stop on the ramp. John

  12. I’ve always been a flasher….even cars with auto-lights, just flick the high beams on & off a couple of times. Works!

    Now that we have an MDT we seem to get more flash-backs than I did in a Class C. But it definitely is less often. I find myself watching my rearview mirror to see if we get flashed over so WE can flash a thank you.

    I think most truckers give us more respect with the MDT than motorhomes & pickup towers. Not sure why. But we always do what we can to make it easy for them. We always pull over when there is a safe spot if we are holding up traffic (on any road).

    I do think drivers in general are more wrapped up into their own world and less aware of what is going on. Lack of general courtesy follows. We are becoming an “it’s all about ME” nation. It’s more important that I save 2 or 10 seconds than anything else. Crazy!

  13. I wish I was physically able to do all the things Terry does but I’m the wife who sits in the cab while Dave does it all since that’s faster than him waiting for me to try to do any of it. We use the RV pumps since we aren’t in a hurry as truckers are but will pull up if there’s room to do so if Dave has to go in to get a receipt. We don’t flash (haven’t figured out how to do so in the new RV) but we do allow trucks the right of way and we do pull off to let the parade pass if we find ourselves leading one. We’ve also learned that in an unfamiliar city we should get in whatever lane all the trucks are in because they know which lanes are about to become exit only.

  14. What I have noticed mostly about trucks is they want to go downhill at somewhere near 80 and then go uphill side by side with one doing 45 and the other doing 46…

    As far as flashing I always try and the return rate is about the same as it always was it seems to me. I have done it in cars, trucks, pickups, class c,b,a and can’t say I see any real difference. My A has the ICC flash button and i try and use if to say thank you. I am not sure all trucks have this any more as more and more it seems as if they do flash a thank you its often with all the trailer lights and not just the clearance lights..

  15. I always flash, at night I dip my headlights rather than flicking high beams as I hear a driver on the CB one night complaining about high beam flashes just as he was looking in the mirror. Since I am very aware of night vision issues (my dash guages are as dim as they go and the radio and CB are covered at night), I ceased flashing the high beams at night.

    Since I am driving a heavy duty truck with the fiver I usually get flashed back in after passing and I can flip my running lights off as a thank you.

    I have been told that many of the “safety” trainers with large trucking companies and drivers schools discourage the flashing of lights out of what I consider to be a somewhat bogus concern for liability.

    I have flashed trucks back over for 50 years and I will keep on doing it.

    The CB can be handy in heavy traffic. Just a month ago I was in two lanes of slow moving traffic headed into a construction zone. As a tank truck came up the on ramp I was able to tell him to come in in front of me – he appreciated it.

  16. I had to chuckle at Michelles comment. I, too, am a Jersey Girl. Gosh I bet I was in my 50’s before I ever pumped gas. And I bet I’ve only done it 3 or 4 times in my life since.

    In NJ it is illegal to pump your own gas. However, you are permitted to pump diesel. Hubby does that! This girl ain’t no fool!

  17. Oregon also prohibits pumping your own gas, but not in truck islands. Does NJ prohibit it for trucks, too?

    We flash sometimes, but it seems there’s hardly ever a response. And I think there were maybe two times in the last 10,000 miles that someone flashed for me after I passed them. We try to pull over a lane to allow ramp traffic to enter, but often the traffic next to us won’t allow it.

  18. I always flash !! And been “mooned” a few time too !! LOL Rate of return on my flashs seems to be about 50%. I always flash the ICC light (button on steering wheel) when returning to right lane after a pass. When moving to the right, I put my turn signals on for a few seconds before beginning to move over… this usually results in a flash from the trucker.

    We fill at the Truck Island (150 gallon tank). Donna goes in, deposits the card to turn the pumps on, and i do the fueling. When done she signs the ticket while I pull up out of the way of any trucks waiting.

    Once we were at a Flyin J in NM, the trucker in front of us had pulled forward, we filled up and were ready to go. Truck was still sitting there, with no driver in sight. We were towing, and could not back out without unhooking. We kept thinking he would show. We got the manager, they searched for him. Just as the manager was calling a tow truck, the guy got in and drove off without a word. (Some dam foreigner, of course). Cost us about 45 minutes.. but, hey, we lived over it !!! LOL

  19. As a full-time RVer and retired trucker and intercity bus driver of over thrty-five years, I understand the dynamics and emotions of over the road driving. Yes indeed, I do my best to enable not only truckers, but all other drivers to remain safe on the highways. I do flash other drivers and generally am recipricated with a return flash of the clearance lights or tail lights. Yes, there are rude drivers of all types. . . there are also the courteous drivers, which are in the majority. Keep on smiling. . . as always, oRV

  20. Yes, we flash, pull up, sing koom by ya. No, most to not flash a “thank you.”
    Have to share one on the subject. Stopped in east TX at a small truck stop with VERY cheap diesel, $2.49/gal., the other day. My 150 gallon tank liked the price. 3 truck/RV lanes all filled with trucking buddies all carrying the same loads of building materials. No one pumping fuel though. So we waited….and waited…and waited and no drivers appear. So after about 10 minutes+ I start to get out to go inside and find them and they all come out, hop in their trucks in unison and drive away! By that time 2 log haulers who had pulled up and been waiting like 3 min. came over and asked us “just how long those jerks who bought no fuel (I found out) had been blocking all 3 pumps?” I just had to laugh. Even other truckers get p.o.ed by the rudeness of a few. We have found most to be quite courteous, RVers and truckers alike.

  21. I am a flasher……
    I also find that a lot of truckers are not flashers. I always look for the heatlight flash and would guess that in about 60 percent of the time the trucker does not flash me in. When a trucker flashes me I turn on my 4 ways. It is just an old courtesy, I guess.
    When traffic is heavy I always flash in trucks or rv’s.

  22. I always flash or blink when passed – brief high beams in the daytime, headlights briefly off down to markers only at night. I watch the trucker’s right side mirror to see when he/she is looking back before I do. If you can’t see the face, the brim of the baseball cap is a good indicator. If you flash them when they are not looking into the mirror, they probably won’t see your signal.

    Almost all will say ‘thank you,’ but more and more of them are using the four-ways instead of blinking the markers. Most of the time, I also use four-ways. I hear them using the CB instead of lights for passing about a third of the time, though.

    One heads-up thing not really mentioned – if I am in the second lane and approaching an exit, I look for entering traffic and if needed open up a space for 18-wheelers in the right lane so THEY can get over safely. I also do this when overtaking two trucks on a hill, if the front truck is starting to lag. I will do this even if I have to temporarily drop back 15 to 20 MPH to do so, because I’m pretty sure the guy/gal behind me won’t give them an inch of room. Some of the truckers see it right away and are thankful, but a few of them (either brain dead or on the cell phone) have come within feet of a crash before they realize they have to get over. The same thing goes for allowing space entering construction zones, or giving clearance to stopped DOT trucks and trooper cars.

    The best ‘thank you’ I ever got was over the CB. I was driving my 4-wheeler home in the middle of the night across 2 states, and doing the speed limit. There was almost no one else but one truck on the road. I passed him on every uphill, always using my turn signal, and he passed me on every downhill. When we approached the exit for the truck stop at the state line, the silence on the CB was broken as he invited me to stop for a cup of coffee! I had to decline, as I only had an hour to go, and wanted to sleep when I got there.

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