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Driving in Japan: A Unique Point of Etiquette


(Video Link)

As a Texan, it pains me to say this, but the most polite drivers that I've encountered were in Ohio. I lived there for a few years and found that it was common for people to give a thank you wave when you let them in. It's more rare here down south.

The Japan Channel, a YouTube channel about life in Japan, reports that Japanese drivers do something similar. If you let one in, s/he will signal thanks. But Japanese drivers do this by briefly flashing their hazard lights.

That's a pretty good idea, especially since it could be seen at night. What do you think? Should drivers in other countries adopt this practice?

-via 22 Words


That reminds me - in Germany, you flash you hazard lights if you want to signal someone that you'll let them in or yield the right of way. In Italy, on the other hand, flashing your hazard lights at an intersection means "Look out - here I come!" Hilarity ensues when you mix those up.

No, really: Never let your Italian boyfriend drive your car in Germany.
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I haven't noticed since it's notoriously difficult for Americans to get their driving permit in Japan (that's another story!), and I usually conk out the moment I hit the highway with my friends. But I'll have to keep an eye out for this next time.
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US truckdrivers have long used this type of communication to tell other driver that his trailer has passed another rig, and is safe to merge back into the travel lane.
1) flash or turn off headlights when merge is safe.
2) after merging, truck either: flashes 4 ways, blinks clearance lights or momentarily puts directional on from side opposite the merge.
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Either a couple of flashes of the hazards, or alternate left/right a couple of times is common in the UK...or a cheery wave. I rather like to do a "courtly" baroque wave out of the window, if I can.
The one that really annoys me (apart from not saying thanks at all) is flashing headlights...at night. Great - thank me by dazzling me. Clever. Instead, I blink my lights off for a moment...just as effective, but no dazzling.
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Please read the comments on YouTube – this is in no way unique to Japan. Most of Europe, plus several other nearby countries uses the same conventions; in the Americas I understand professional drivers also use these signals on a regular basis.
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I liked the "left-turn signal" practice that I noticed when in Spain. Drivers in the left lane that are passing a car will use their left-turn signal if a car comes up behind them. Just a way of saying, "I see you and will move over to the right lane as soon as I pass this car." Number one, it acknowledges the other driver; number two, and maybe even more importantly, it shows they know not to park in the passing lane!!!
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In California we have essentially the same thing. When another driver let's you in, or passes, or just drives we:

- Flip them off
- Try to intimidate them with a sudden swerve towards them
- Throw a Starbucks Insulated Travel Mug
- All while laying on the horn.
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What are you talking about? I lived in Texas almost all my life and MOST people say thank you with hazards and let you know when your lights are off or if there is a cop nearby with a flash of their high beams.
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John must not live in the same Texas in which I live. It's common etiquette:
1) You're on a 2-lane road and see a car coming up behind you. But it's not safe for him to pass you;
2) You move over to the right and drive on the shoulder;
3) Now that you've made room, the faster car can dive on;
4) You pull back onto the road behind the faster car. He thanks you by blinking his hazard lights.
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