Voices

Don’t flash your headlights, says RACQ

Paul Murrell says a report from RACQ Insurance shows motorists are becoming increasingly frustrated by draconian speed limit enforcement and penalties, and asks why should it be illegal for motorists to warn each other of speed traps.

WE’VE PROBABLY ALL DONE IT, and when somebody does it for us, even if we’re not speeding, we appreciate their consideration. We’re talking about flashing the headlights to warn oncoming motorists of a speed trap.

Now it appears motorists are also using social media to increase their odds of not being caught.

RACQ conducted research that found 62% of Queensland motorists admitted flashing their headlights to warn other motorists of a speed camera or police speed checks, 12% regularly report the location of speed cameras to local radio stations, 11% said they used a mobile application such as Trapster to warn other drivers and 41% admitted to phoning friends, relatives and work colleagues to alert them.

Comprehensive Car Insurance

In another interesting finding, 12% admitted to having a radar-detecting device in their cars, despite substantial penalties if caught in possession of one (a maximum of $4400 in Queensland).

Mike Sopinski of the RACQ tells motorists, “flashing lights at oncoming motorists is an offence. Although motorists who flash their lights may think they’re acting in good faith or exhibiting a type of motoring fraternity, they are clearly preventing the law from taking its correct and proper course.”

Of course, this raises a bit of a challenge for “the law” since speed cameras are always claimed as a safety device designed to slow drivers down. Flashing lights at oncoming motorists slows them down, so where’s the issue?

Then Sopinski stretches credibility beyond the limit. “Motorists are disregarding the law and subjecting themselves and other road users to possible danger by flashing their lights as it could distract oncoming drivers. Even a momentary loss of concentration can have fatal consequences, especially when vehicles are being driven at highway speeds.”

So how does he suggest motorists warn other motorists of a potential hazard such as a fallen tree or road incident ahead? And if a headlight flash constitutes a “distraction”, how much more dangerous a distraction is coming across a speed trap unexpectedly? Or having a patrol car thunder up behind you with its red-and-blues flickering and headlights flashing?

We want to know, do you flash your headlights to warn other drivers of a speed trap?


1 Comment

  1. David
    March 9, 2014 at 10:04 am — Reply

    I used to do it all the time, but one occasion many years ago I was preparing for it (waiting for good long section of road, good amount of cars to see it, etc) when I saw a secondary police car parked on the side in my way, presumeably to catch headlight flashers after the primary police car speed trap, or maybe he was parked there for something unrelated. Luckily I didn’t do it, as there was talk then that you could also be booked if caught flash-warning, so I rarely do it anymore. But of course the whole thing is for revenue raising, nothing else. If they truly wanted to reduce speed on the roads, just cruise more cop cars around (marked ones, not unmarked). Everyone slows down when they see a police car on the road.

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.