Autoblog readers say flashing other motorists justified

Flashing other road users to warn them a mobile speed camera is lying in wait is the right thing to do, according to an Autoblog poll of 25,000 drivers.

Despite the threat of prosecution by police an incredible 85 per cent of motorists (21,625) in our survey said they would warn motorists they're entering a trap.
The resounding thumbs up for flashing confirms a similar survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists that showed almost half of motorists would warn other road users of a camera (When is flashing other motorists justified?)

Seven per cent (1,949) in our survey said they thought it was 'maybe' the right thing to do while only eight per cent (1,920) believed flashing was categorically the wrong thing to do.

Claire Armstrong, co-founder of Safe Speed, said: "The result of this poll is no surprise to us when we consider that cameras have caused such a massive rift between the police and the public.

"The fact that it is illegal overrides the desire to assist another motorist from the clutches of profit for miles per hours from the rapidly growing speed industry. This technical infringement bares no resemblance to whether a vehicle is traveling safely or not and so the disgust with which they are perceived is only reflected in the help awarded to their fellow motorists.

"People feel very strongly about cameras as they are not seen as any kind of road safety benefit. It is high time cameras were scrapped and a return to proper road safety was restored."

The laws surrounding flashing other motorists are vague. A driver was recently prosecuted and fined for 'obstructing police' when he flashed his headlights to warn of a speed camera. However, the case is likely to go to appeal.

"The legal position on flashing to warn is interesting," explained Andrew Howard, head of road safety at The AA. "Although flashing headlamps to warn drivers of a speed trap is given as an example of obstructing the police on the Crown Prosecution website, there is case law that suggests this is a bad example.

"The alternative view is that you cannot be obstructing the police if you don't give a definite message - and according to the Highway Code flashing your headlamps means 'I am here'. If the recent case goes to appeal, as seems likely, that may resolve the dilemma once and for all."

A spokeswoman for the IAM, which organised the original poll, said: "It is interesting to discover how passionate people are about this debate, and we are not surprised to learn that so many people feel that it is acceptable to warn another driver of a speed trap.

"Flashing headlights is a very common way of communicating between drivers.. However flashing can be used to communicate a number of different messages, and in a situation where traffic is heavy it may be unclear who the signal is meant for.

"We appreciate it is widely used, but we would advise drivers to avoid flashing – especially if the signal could be misinterpreted."

While the argument as to whether it's right or wrong to flash your lights is likely to rumble on, most drivers will be pleased to know that so many other motorists are willing to face prosecution to warn them a speed camera van is hiding down the road...

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