We’ve all been flashed by another driver. It happens nearly every day you go out in the car and while it’s often clear enough why you’ve been flashed – and it can even be quite friendly of the other driver – there are also many occasions when it’s either downright unclear why it’s being done or else it can verge on the dangerous. With automotive technology ever advancing the brilliance of the now increasingly commonplace xenon headlights, it means it can be quite uncomfortable to have such lights flashed into one’s eyes even in broad daylight.
It’s recently been reported that in the city of Shenzhen the Chinese police have a somewhat unique means of dealing with drivers who needlessly flash their lights. Offenders who are caught are being made to look at bright headlights for a full five minutes, something which the police describe as an “appropriate experience” that would make offenders see the harm such use of their headlights could cause others. Offenders are also obliged to attend an official police explanation on the proper use of headlights and, not content with that, they must also pay a fine.
While we haven’t quite reached the stage of compelling inconsiderate motorists to suffer a dose of their own medicine the consequences of unthinking and confusing use of headlights as a means of (sometimes aggressive) communication rather than necessary illumination for the obvious reasons of road safety can, of course, be addressed through the courts; those who drive without reasonable consideration for other road users are liable to prosecution under section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the same section that applies to driving without due care and attention (or careless driving as it’s often called). And the same penalties apply to both.
A person can be convicted of driving without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place providing other persons are inconvenienced by his driving. This will always depend on the facts, of course, but aggressive flashing of lights intended to force someone to move over could constitute the offence.
The courts may revert to the guidance within the Highway Code for what is and is not acceptable conduct and non-observance will tend to establish liability although a mere breach will not be enough.
While we can probably relax about the possibility of the Chinese penalty reaching these shores any time soon the offence of inconsiderate driving is still sufficiently serious to merit legal advice from the earliest stage.
This article is intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. Newnham & Jordan Solicitors cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article or any external articles it may refer or link to.