If you’re driving down a dark, two-lane road, the last thing you need is a vehicle driving in the opposite direction with their high beams on. High beams should be used cautiously. However, many drivers use them whenever they’re on a poorly lit road, regardless of their blinding effect on oncoming traffic.
The initial reaction to seeing someone with their high beams on is to flash their headlights to try to alert the other driver to switch to their low beams. Unfortunately, that can be dangerous.
According to the California Driver Handbook, the correct action is to “[l]ook toward the right edge of your lane.” This helps you avoid being blinded. Don’t look directly at the high beams, but make sure you can still see the vehicle in your peripheral vision as you look away.
The head of driver training program for AAA says that one reason why flashing your lights at a driver using their high beams is a bad idea is that they may be driving under the influence, and may not be seeing clearly. Lights flashing at them is only going to compromise their vision more.
Flashing headlights can also cause something called the “moth effect.” Our eyes tend to follow flashing or bright lights automatically. When we do that, it’s too easy to steer the vehicle toward the lights — and into oncoming traffic.
The AAA official’s advice when you see someone driving with their high beams on is, “Let them go on by.”
Flashing headlights to try to communicate anything to another driver can be problematic, because they may not know what your flashing lights mean. However, experts say that an exception is flashing your headlights to warn drivers of a hazard in the road ahead that you can see, and they may not yet be able to – like a crash, a disabled vehicle or something in the road.
If you encounter a driver using their high beams, it’s best for you to worry about doing what you need to do to stay safe — like not letting the lights blind you. If you are injured in a crash caused by a driver using their high beams when they shouldn’t have been, it’s important to take the necessary steps to seek the compensation you need and deserve.