The ‘secret code’ that Aussies use to warn other drivers of police road patrols and speed cameras – so is it legal?
- Australians have revealed the ‘secret code’ that motorists use to warn of police
- Involves motorists flashing their car headlights at oncoming vehicles
- Law firm says flashing other drivers could arguably earn a conviction as an example of hindering a police officer in the execution of their duty
Australians have revealed the ‘secret code’ that motorists use to warn each other that police are nearby.
The ‘secret code’ involves motorists flashing their car headlights at oncoming vehicles.
A Sydney woman recently revealed that another motorist had used the ‘secret code’ to warn her that a mobile speed camera was ahead.
‘For the first time in what feels like years, a car flashed their headlights at me to warn me of a mobile speed camera further up the road,’ she wrote on Reddit.
‘I was not speeding, but I really did appreciate the gesture.’
A lively debate has been sparked online over the code that motorists use to warn each other that police are nearby
An Australian motorist posted to social media saying an oncoming car had flashed their headlights at her to warn a mobile speed camera was ahead
While there is no law against warning drivers that police patrols or speed cameras are nearby, there are clear laws against using high-beam lights in traffic, including flashing them.
It is against the law to drive on the road with high-beam headlights if a car in front travels in the same direction within 200 metres.
It’s also an offence to flash high beams when another oncoming vehicle is within 200 metres.
In New South Wales, flashing high-beam lights in traffic carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $2,200. But police will usually only issue a penalty notice of $112.
That penalty would also result in one demerit point, though the same offence in Victoria could mean three demerit points off your licence.
Law firm Astor Legal also states flashing other drivers could arguably earn a conviction as an example of hindering a police officer in the execution of their duty, or even perverting the course of justice, a serious offence carrying a maximum of 14 years in jail.
But it is regarded as difficult to prove in court that a car flashing headlights was actually an attempt to hinder police or pervert the course of justice.
One Aussie pointed out a simple loophole to get around the rule: briefly turning your low-beam headlights on and off instead of flashing your high beams.
It is not against the law to test your headlights by turning them on and off, no matter how close other cars are.
Motorists revealed the ‘secret code’ is common right across Australia.
‘Everyone in western Sydney does this,’ one Aussie said on Reddit.
It was apparent from the Reddit debate that flashing fellow drivers to warn police are about happens all over Australia – and beyond
Speeding is the number one cause of fatal road accidents in Australia
A Queensland driver claimed he had flashed his lights at other drivers for 25 years, and had personal experience of police response to it.
‘I remember everyone used to do this. But then cops used to pull people over for flashing. But it was mostly harassment from the cops so they could deter people from warning others,’ they claimed.
Aussies discussing the ‘secret code’ were overwhelmingly in favour of the rebellious act, so long as it applies to speed cameras and not policing of other matters.
‘I think it’s a great thing. It represents somewhat of a comradery between motorists,’ one commenter said.
‘Everyone flashes around where I live. [Police are] always hiding behind a bush,’ said another.
‘An Auspost worker on a motorbike did it to me the other day. Absolute legend.’
Another claimed it was ‘unAustralian’ not to warn other drivers of speed cameras.
The response on reddit was overwhelmingly in favour of the rebellious act – so long as it applies to speed cameras and not policing of other matters
But a few commenters said they’d never warn other motorists that police were doing random breath testing ahead
But a few said they’d never warn other motorists that police were doing random breath testing ahead.
‘Yeah I don’t warn for RBTs, if they’re stupid enough to drive drunk then they deserve to be caught.’