This is why flashing your headlights at other cars could land you with a £1,000 fine

How a friendly warning could land you in trouble with the law

Drivers have been urged to make sure they understand the rules around flashing headlights at other motorists or risk a potential fine.

It is common to see drivers flash their lights to let another car out at a junction, warn of a hazard on the road ahead or express displeasure at someone’s bad driving.

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However, doing so is in violation of the Highway Code and in some cases flashing your lights is actually against the law.

The Highway Code states that you should only use your headlights to let other road users know you are there, adding:  “Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users. Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully.”

While flashing to give someone priority at a junction is counter to the guidance in the Highway Code, using your lights to intimidate other road users or warn of speed cameras or other police activity is also against the law.

Flashing your headlights in an attempt to threaten or intimidate them could be interpreted as careless, dangerous or even “furious” driving, all of which are against the law and carry potential penalty points and fines.

Using your lights to warn of a speed camera or police speed trap is also against the law and carries a maximum penalty of £1,000, although the actual cost is likely to be lower.

Section 89 of the Police Act 1997 makes it illegal to "wilfully obstruct a police officer" in the execution of their duty and, according to England’s Crown Prosecution Service “giving a warning to other motorists of a police speed trap ahead” counts as such an offence.

Duncan McClure Fisher, founder and CEO of motoring association MotorEasy, said: “While flashing your headlights to gesture to a motorist they can proceed might not break the law, it’s something many drivers will do without thinking.

“It’s entirely possible these signs can be misread and could lead to an accident which could be costly on a number of levels.

“As the Highway Code sets out, it’s vital people use their judgement and proceed with caution.”