Flashing your headlights to warn other drivers is actually a breach of the highway code and using them to try and alert them to the presence of police could be treated as a criminal offence.
Flashing your headlights could be in breach of the Highway Code
We’ve all flashed our headlights at another car at one point or another and it’s considered good road manners to either warn other drivers of something or say to thank you. However, this action is actually against the highway code and can land you in trouble.
Flashing your headlights can be used to signal to other drivers that there is a speed camera or police ahead. Many drivers are unaware that this helpful gesture can see you facing a fine yourself. Motorists can receive fines of up to £1000 for flashing their headlights to warn other drivers.
On the matter of warning other drivers about speed cameras, the Highway Code states under rule 110: “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.”
£1000 penalty fine for flashing your headlights
The department of transport warns that a breach of this rule could stand up in a court of law as evidence. While this breach won’t lead to a conviction, warning drivers about a speed trap implemented by the police could be in breach of section 89 of the Police Act 1997. This law states that an offence is something that tries to “willfully obstruct a constable in the execution of his/her duty.”
Therefore, police could charge anyone who appears to be obstructing their ability to conduct speed checks on other motorists by warning them. The maximum fine for obstructing a police officer is a penalty of £1000.
When should you flash your headlights?
There are several different reasons why drivers may flash their headlights at other road users. As discussed above, one of these reasons could be to communicate to another road user that there is a police speed trap ahead or speed cameras. Flashing headlights can also be used to signal to another car, cyclist or pedestrian that they can proceed if they don’t have priority. Flashing headlights are sometimes used as a form of aggressive driving.
The correct time to flash your headlights, as stated by the highway code, is when you are alerting other road users to your presence. Therefore, you should only flash your headlights to warn other drivers you are there if you are in a dangerous position or you think they may not have noticed you. If you want to avoid being slapped with a hefty fine, it’s best to stick to the rules of highway code at all times.
Flashing headlights during the driving test
Although it’s not illegal to signal to let other drivers know you are there by flashing your headlights, it is not advised that you do this during your driving test as it can be viewed as hazardous. Signalling to another road user or pedestrian during the driving test may not necessarily result in a test failure; however, it depends on the situation and the discretion of the examiners.
If another driver appears to be pushy and move out in front of you, safely slow down and give enough room for them to continue, without signalling them with your headlights. This situation can frequently occur with learner drivers as they are often slower and other drivers can be impatient, your examiner will be watching to see how you handle such situations.
We spoke to one of our driving instructors from our driving school in Wellingborough on the subject:
“Flashing your headlights should only ever be used in line with the rules set out by the highway code, this is something I tell all of my students. I advise my pupils NOT to flash their headlights during their driving test unless absolutely necessary, for example, if they were in a dangerous position and needed to alert another car to their presence.”