European driving in California here, some guy passed us on the right side on route 50 between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe (two lanes each way) and was very intently showing us this sign. What does it mean? What could we have done wrong?

enter image description here

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    You were in the left lane, and letting traffic pass you on the right? Slower traffic should always keep in the right lane except to pass other traffic (or to turn left, if it's not a freeway), except in right-hand-drive countries where the opposite is done. Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 22:54
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    I grew up in California and have never seen or heard of this gesture anywhere in the U.S.; we would need more information before we can guess. Was the person waving or wagging the fingers? What direction were the fingers pointed? The palm? Was the person smiling, scowling, or making any other kind of facial expression? A twist of the hand could be "a friendly salute," an insistent pointing could mean "pay attention to your surroundings," and so on.
    – choster
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 0:31
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    @Aganju That might be true that people don't obey the rule in all cases, but they should, and in some states (e.g. Oklahoma) you can get a large ticket if you don't do it. And it will absolutely encourage driver gestures, even if it is legal, if you do do it. Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 0:33
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    @Aganju The exact statute depends on the state, but in California it is the law to yield to faster traffic, even if you are traveling at the posted speed limit.
    – choster
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 0:35
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    From a driver who has just passed you on the right, I would interpret any gesture as meaning "I am angry that you were in the left lane and traveling slower than I wanted to go." Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 3:33

2 Answers 2


I don’t think it is a standard sign, but I would understand it as a reminder that there are two lanes - did you swerve over the divider, making it ‘one lane’ (and annoying him)?

  • If they mean “peace,” “victory,” or “two,” the fingers will be separated, not touching as in the image.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 22:26

As a Californian, I disagree with the previous answer. I think two fingers is is pretty clearly a friendly "hello" wave (it might be accompanied by the word "peace"). In this case, he was likely either saying:

"Yo! Sorry I'm passing you on the right!"

or, if he's being passive-aggressive:

"I'm not happy that I have to pass you on the right, but I'll make a friendly-looking wave anyways so that I don't seem too mean... but, hopefully you take the hint and move over, ~expletive~!

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