The genius of saying sorry with your hazards

I entered the roundabout at a very, how should I say, “deliberate” speed. Ok, it was bordering on too fast. To anyone watching, I was clearly on the move through the roundabout and had the right-of-way. However, a truck pulling out just ahead didn’t see it that way, or didn’t see me until it was too late, and made the ill-advised decision to go ahead of me.

They cut me off and I had to slow down. Fast.

I didn’t honk but I did have a moment of exasperation, threw up my hands (quickly, one was still on the steering wheel of course) and the words “What the hell….” may have started to come out of my mouth.

On other days I have been known to have a worse reaction. But before things could escalate any further, or, as is more likely, I could stew on my feelings of being personally affronted (how dare they!?!), a funny thing happened.

The truck driver said sorry to me.

With his car.

He said sorry with his hazard lights, to be more specific.

I immediately felt better. “Ah ok, he knows he fucked up”, I thought to myself.

See, since moving to Scotland (from the US) I’ve learned that people here use their hazard lights to say “thank you” and “sorry” all the time.

At first I thought it was so strange. Now I think it is super useful.

When you need to acknowledge someone for letting you in or if you accidentally cut someone off, just click the hazards on for a moment and then off again to send the message. If you think about it, what a great use for a feature of your car that you basically never use. Even if you DO use your hazard lights, you are doing so because you are being a hazard to others, so you are basically using them to say sorry anyway. Now people are just taking it to a new level.

It is one of those things I’ve never seen anywhere else but everyone here seems to do it by instinct.

I don’t know whether this is a Scotland or UK thing or happens in other countries but I think it’s genius. Well done Brits! 👏🏼

2 responses

  1. I can confirm it’s a New Zealand 🇳🇿 thing as well, used in most cases to thank the other driver rather than regret ☺️

  2. Here in the US truckers sometimes use them (or flash their running lights) to thank you for allowing them to merge or indicating they have enough room to merge. I do think it’s nice to have a way to indicate awareness of making a mistake, though I can’t help but think here at least people would rather have a “Sorry Not Sorry” light.

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