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Are you a flasher?

An approaching driver flashes his headlights. (To make things easy, I use the masculine throughout). My response is based on what I have seen, experienced and attempted to rationalize during more than 40 years of driving. The HIGHWAY CODE and the IAM ADVANCED DRIVER'S MANUAL are very clear, brief and to the point:

�Only - to let others know that you are there do not flash to intimidate never assume it is a signal to go use your own judgement."

We have to accept that flashing occurs frequently. We have to live with it and react positively. It is arguable that in this rural area, where every journey includes stretches of narrow roads, sharp bends, agricultural vehicles, lines of parked vehicles, steep hills, horses and other animals, hikers, cyclists, etc., the driver has to use every technique available, including headlight flash, to avoid disaster and display courtesy and understanding Here are some of my reactions to seeing a 'flash':

  1. There is a vehicle. Its lights are working. Is it stationary or moving?
  2. The driver may have:
    1. thought he was turning on his windscreen wipers;
    2. thought he was indicating a left or right turn;
    3. touched the switch by accident;
    4. seen a friend in another vehicle or on the pavement.
    5. just gone over a bump or ridge in the road and his modern dipped headlights suddenly appear to flash.
  3. On the other hand, he may:
    1. be inviting me to make a manoeuvre that I am indicating;
    2. be inviting another driver/pedestrian to do likewise;
    3. be telling me and others that there is a hazard ahead;
    4. be indicating that he is responding to an emergency
    5. be telling all and sundry that he is in difficulties;
    6. have no intention of slowing down for anyone or anything.
  4. I have a second or two to weigh up all these possibilities, respond safely and make a positive decision.

Yes, I accept the need to use flashing in some circumstances, but do so with reluctance, extreme caution and awareness, as well as with no possibility of ambiguity, as far as possible. It must also be borne in mind that our manner of driving is a continuous indication of our intentions to all around us. Thoughtful driving behavior should reduce the occasions when we are tempted to flash.

Robert Hilton

MATLOCK (Derwent and Hope Valleys)Group of Advanced Motorists

Tel 01629 812732

IAM Group No. 4191