Counterpoint by Scott Freeman Is flashing motorists really such a crime?


In a recent crackdown on crime, police officers fined 20 people £30 each for the little-known offence of misusing their headlights. No, not deliberately blinding little old ladies on their way home from bingo. Not even sending obscene messages via morse code. Their crime – if indeed it was such - was to warn other motorists to slow down.

I have, on occasion, flashed my headlights at oncoming drivers to indicate the presence of a hazard which they will shortly encounter: a slow-moving wide load, a loose sheep on the road, a group of ramblers crossing and, yes, a speed trap.

I never considered this a crime. Surely prompting someone to be extra vigilant, to watch their speed, is helping prevent an infringement of the law?

It must, by all reason be a Good Thing. If not, then why is our countryside littered with speed camera signs if not to remind drivers to check their speed, to stay within the limit?

One of the Lancashire Constabulary officers involved in the mean-spirited imposition of fines on public-spirited drivers is quoted as saying that warning other drivers of speed trap was: “Potentially putting lives at risk”.

He argued that flashing your lights at someone might make them slow down for a second, but would not make them change their habits. Speeding motorists needed to be spoken to in order that they reconsider their irresponsible driving. Interesting.

Presumably that means that local authorities up and down the land – including Derbyshire – must now expect the full force of the law to swing into action to tackle the anti-social and potentially fatal consequences of their road signs.

Many of our communities have the latest interactive signs which flash the speed limit and the message ‘slow down’ when drivers approach too fast.

If each time one of these was activated prompted a £30 fine I suspect Derbyshire County Council and all the other bodies in the Safety Camera Partnership would be bankrupt within the week.