Flashing headlights: good karma or bad?

OK, this isn’t something I’m losing sleep over, and I use “karma” in the vernacular sense, not the stricter religious one, but here’s what I mean…

In some places I’ve lived and traveled, there is a custom of warning oncoming traffic of a speed trap ahead (of them, behind oneself) by flashing one’s headlights. I generally do this because it seemed the polite, neighborly thing to do (i.e. “good karma”). But upon further reflection, it occurred to me that in doing this one is (I am) encouraging and enabling others to (gasp!) break the law by speeding (i.e. “bad karma”).

So, net-net, is it a good thing or bad IYO?

(And as a related question, is the fact that this practice seems to be in decline a reflection that people think it’s not a good thing to do because it encourages unlawfulness? Or is it just another indicator that fewer people give a rat’s about their fellow humans?)

It’s very common around here. There’s a strong “us-against-them” attitude when it comes to motorists and speed cameras. The camera operators do their best to hide their speed traps; most people do their best to thwart them.

I don’t though. I’m glad when speeding motorists are caught and fined. Less chance they will cause an accident. Less chance they’ll run down the school kids crossing the road up ahead.

I’m inclined to flash my headlights. Speeding motorists who get flashed do slow down to the speed limit - and that’s a good thing, surely. I mean, the goal of the whole speed camera thing is (allegedly) to persuade people to keep to the speed limit rather than to raise revenue.

If they don’t slow down, they get caught. Teach them to ignore me.

Hmm, I always thought that meant “You have your brights on and are blinding me.”

Good thing I rarely speed.

This is the first time I heard about flashing headlights used in this manner. So many times I thought I was being flashed because others thought my high beams were on – just like Osiris. Once I thought a cop behind me had his lights on because he wanted me to go faster. So I sped up. I know. It must have been a brain fart. But that ticket really cost me! :mad:

I think the warning is a good think. As mentioned, some people may not be paying attention, so to get them to drive within the speed limits is a good thing.

More & more, I’m inclined to think “that fewer people give a rat’s about their fellow humans.” :frowning:

I usually flash to warn of a cop. I think it’s a great practice. In a society where doing something to help a stranger is so rare, people are willing to get in trouble to warn others. Cops do not take kindly to this practice and can give a ticket for it.

So helping strangers do something illegal and evade the police is a good thing? Am I the only one who is uneasy with this idea?

I guess that’s one way to look at it. But from where I sit, you’re not helping them break the law. You’re just giving them a heads-up that if they are speeding, they may get caught soon. The warning serves to stop them, at that particular time, from breaking the law.

Um, no, which is why I started the thread. :wink:

I do like the thought that flashing one’s headlights might encourage speeders to slow down, which is a good thing, but perhaps I like this as it’s a nice justification (i.e. supports my previous practice).

But I didn’t know I could get a ticket myself for this practice.

I still like the idea of helping my fellow travelers, and not just falling into that MYOB/"&*#$ the other guy" frame of mind.

And it’s not like I’m encouraging others to speed - they’re already speeding and can hardly rely that I will be there to warn them of the cop ahead…

SO I guess I’m as conflicted as ever.

P.S. Yes, as mentioned, flashing one’s headlights is also used for “your high beams are on and blinding me”, but usually only at night. :wink:

To me it’s bad karma if it’s to avoid a speed trap. If you speed (which I do) sooner or later you get caught. I don’t like the idea of helping somebody evade the police. I don’t like it when others falsh their lights at me when it’s just a speed trap.

It’s good karma to flash when there is danger ahead. Like large animals near or on the road, you don’t want to hit a bull elk. Or there is an accident or road block ahead. On a road with blind curves you don’t see what really lies ahead of you. It’s nice to have a heads up.

I usually flash headlights to let some idiot know he’s driving with his headlights OFF when they really should be ON…you know, nighttime, dense fog, heavy rain, blinding snow. While I usually appreciate being informed of an upcoming speed trap, it always amuses me, because I’m rarely speeding when this happens. Some people seem desperate to let every oncoming car know there’s a cop around…flashing at everybody and even waving sometimes. And yes, the first thing I do is check my headlights, not my speed.

Actually, there was a really bad car accident in Calgary a few years back when someone flashed there lights and an oncoming motorist got disoriented (it was at night and I think the road was wet). The drive crashed into the bridge overpass - I don’t remember totally, but I think there were a few people killed.

Definatly bad karma.

well, i had never heard about that little trick. i only knew of the obvious “your brights are on” one. however i would tend to think it would be good karma because you are doing it in the best interests of others, how they handle it… well, thats their karma.

btw i got a speeding ticket last week. damn! they are flippen expensive.

If you believe in karma, it will certainly be good karma to warn others of a speed trap.

Most of the time, traffic enforcement is designed to steal money from people, not to reduce speed.

By the way, what’s with all this “speed=collisions” sentiment here? Stupidity causes collisions. Speed would only be a factor if you were going so fast that your car is sliding when you go around corners.

If we TRULY wanted to reduce or eliminate driving above a certain speed, we’d simply have a few policemen ride up and down the highway at rush hour with their cruise controls set at the speed limit; few people would be so foolish as to pass. An officer hiding behind a billboard, shaking down one out of a hundred of those cars in a lottery-like fashion, is not an effective deterrent.

What if you flash your headlights to warn about that speed trap around the corner and are shot and killed as part of a gang initiation?!? :eek:

LOL - I was just thinking that :smiley:

It’s almost like Morse Code for vehicles (at least where I’m from)

Flashing dim-bright-dim is the way to get someone to change from bright to dim.

Long-duration On-off flashing is to warn of a cop ahead.

Short-flash on-off is to let someone trying to merge that you are aware of them and will let them over, used mostly with trucks hauling farm equipment on trailers and with Big Rigs.

Dim-to-bright flashing from behind is to alert someone that you want to pass and, if possible, they should make room by getting on the shoulder where appropriate. In Texas many roads have wide shoulders that designed to allow farm vehicles to do just this.

As to the OP, I think it is good karma.

Good Karma.

Out here, anyway, where it’s a long drive to anywhere (~30 miles to the nearest small towns, 67 miles to the nearest town with a Wal-Mart and Taco Bell, 80 miles to the National Park, and 160 miles to the nearest city with actual stuff and things-to-do) along sparsely-travelled yet well-patrolled highways.

And by well-patrolled I mean you’ve got the DPS, the Sheriff’s Deputies, AND the Border Patrol looking for ANY reason to pull you over (e.g., going 72 in a 70 and YOUR spedometer was reading 69) because you MIGHT be running drugs. (“Routine” traffic stops down here often include both the DPS and Border Patrol.)

Ergo, I flash and appreciate being flashed. With headlights, that is.

I used to drive 50 miles down the Long Island Expressway every day, from one end of Suffolk county to the other. The last 20 miles or so was more rural than suburban, and the traffic was usually light to nonexistent in both directions. Yet this is where I found the vast majority of speed traps would be. This seemed wrong to me, because the speeders in heavier traffic are a much more serious problem. The only excuse I can think of is that the radar has an easier time picking up cars when they aren’t in a crowd. Which just burns me up even more. I don’t think cops who average over 100k a year should be taking the easy way out.

So yeah, in those cases I used to have no problem giving a warning flash.

I guess it’s good karma, although I personally hate the brights-flashing thing because usually it means that my high lights are on, which makes me freakin angry, because of course they’re on because the road I’m usually on is dark and loopy and has lots of wildlife running across it a lot. I usually get flashed by people who have just whipped up over the hill and only have just seen me, but I’m not allowed to do ANYTHING about the meanie in the SUV/van/taller vehicle who is behind me and has his brights on and is blinding me. Is there a code for that?

<deep breath>

Sorry. I try to pass on good karma whenever I can. I have also used the flashing lights thing to warn people of deer crossing a part of the road I was just through. I hoped they understood and slowed down, instead of checking their headlights.