Beware of flashers!

Flashing isn’t illegal. But take care, it could land you in hot water.

We don’t mean ‘hot water’ with the Police but with other road users.

What happened today whilst riding, made me think:

A bus stopped some distance ahead, letting passengers out. A car close behind me.

On approach I am thinking the bus may wish to pull back out. So I slowed and gave room just in case.

The car behind me flashed his head lights and the bus pulled out.

Had the bus seen me or had he reacted to the flash without looking? I know the answer.

If I had not anticipated the bus wishing to pull back out, I might well have been next to him when he was ‘given permission’!

The highway code says:

Rule 110

Flashing headlights. Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.

Rule 111

Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully.

What does this mean for your safety whilst driving or riding? Ride defensively is the quick answer.

Giving Permission

It seems that most occasions flashing of head lights means that someone is giving permission for someone else to do something; such as turn across their path or pull out.

Stop and think the last time that happened to you. What would have been the consequences if the flashed head lights from that vehicle was intended to warn you that they were there, not give you permission?

If you are the flasher intending to give permission but the coast wasn’t clear for the other road user? They go ahead and start to cross in front of you because you have given permission, but the filtering motorcycle or traffic on the other carriageway hasn’t stopped.

Junction Hazard Procedure


What can cause problems rather than just road permission and space?

  • The dark
    • This can make one head light from a motorcycle difficult to pick out with other head lights.
  • Headlights and blinding vision
    • If head lights are flashed or are adjusted incorrectly, it can make it difficult to adjust your vision or see what is there.
  • Rain
    • Water on mirrors or windows can have an effect on what can be seen, or a flash may be misjudged.
  • Vehicle movement / potholes or suspension travel
    • This can cause, especially on a motorcycle, a movement of the head light. If that is up and down through vibration or more, it could be mistaken for an invitation to pull out of a junction!
  • Indicating left or right on a car
    • We see it on the roads a lot and especially with novice drivers. The indicator stalk can be pulled back when intending to indicate.

Please stay courteous and allow people to do things on the road but beware of flashing and being flashed!

Make sure you understand peoples intentions and that it is safe to proceed. Don’t just blindly react and go!

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