Before there were electric signals, truck drivers used hand signals to communicate with one another and other motorists on the road. For example, if a driver were to stick his arm out the window and bend it downward, this would indicate to other drivers that he intended to slow down. The advancement of technology has made many of these signals obsolete, replaced by lights and turn signals, but others have stood the test of time. Whether it’s by hand or by lights, do you know what another truck driver means when they signal to you?

Signals to Increase Awareness and Safety
Truckers will typically turn on their hazard lights when they’ve stopped or are going significantly slower on the highway due to traffic or weather. This indicates to drivers behind them that they should begin slowing down too. Lightly tapping on the brake pedal also warns other drivers that there’s danger ahead or you’re about to stop or slow down.

Probably the most common signal is to let drivers know about a police speed trap ahead of them. If you’re driving and see a vehicle in oncoming traffic flash their headlights twice in a row, that’s usually their way of trying to tell you that there’s police up ahead. The old-school hand signal for this would be a sideways peace sign.

When a truck driver wants to move into your lane after passing or in heavy traffic, it’s common courtesy to flash your lights quickly to let them know there’s enough room in front of you for them to move over. To alert another driver that there’s an issue with their truck, you can point to the issue and then give them a thumbs down.

The Truck Driver Nod
How many ways are there to say “hello”? You can opt to do the “James Dean” wave by touching your right forefinger to your right eyebrow and then extending it out or simply by holding your hand up (no waving required). Some drivers might lift a few fingers off the steering wheel in a small wave and if you’re wearing a baseball cap, just tugging down the brim of your cap is considered a nod. If you’d rather signal “hello” with your truck, you can “wave” by flashing your left blinker once or twice.

Congratulations, now you know more about communicating with other truck drivers!


If you’ve been thinking about joining the Carter team, let us tell you all about our new pay package! Carter Express offers a variety of CDL-A truck driving opportunities with competitive pay, support for drivers and a family focus! Visit to learn more about our driver training or call (833) 934-2103 to speak to a recruiter!