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Contradiction in speed warning messages

Police warning speed camera contradiction

In a blatant contradiction, NSW police have collected almost $500,000 in fines from motorists flashing their headlights over the same five years a NSW road safety ad claimed motorists’ lives would have been saved if they had known about a speed camera.

The fines were imposed on motorists flashing their headlights at approaching vehicles, presumably to warn them of a police speed trap ahead.

This is despite the Transport for NSW ad campaign run over the same period which stated: “If he had known there was a speed camera ahead, he would have slowed down and survived.”

Flashing your lights is the most popular method for motorists to warn others of a speed camera ahead. Based on the ad, it could also be one of the most effective methods of saving motorists’ lives.


Yet at the same time as the ad was being run, police pulled over 4736 motorists and slapped them with fines of up to $110 and one demerit point for doing exactly what could have prevented a fatality.NSW police blitz demerit contradiction

It’s an extreme contradiction!

The ad was part of the Transport for NSW ad ‘Speed Cameras – Slow Down’ campaign. The campaign has since been retired.

This NSW example is just one contradiction in the mixed road safety messages from police and transport authorities.

Support for flashing

Our article about riders warning others of speed cameras or police activity ahead has been met with a majority of support from riders who say they do it most of the time.

That is despite the fact that they face a fine of more than $100 and one demerit point.

Australian Road Rules (2006) Section 218 says you can’t flash high beams within 200m of an approaching vehicle as it can startle other motorists.

Seems strange in the daytime that a 100-watt headlight bulb could be dazzling when there is a  multi-billion-watt lightbulb in the sky! Admittedly, it can be a problem at night.

We can’t recommend people break the law, but you might also consider hand gestures to warn other motorists.

hand gesture Warning speed camera police contradiction
Types of hand gestures bikers can use to warn of speed cameras ahead

Some police say such warnings prevent them from the execution of their duty.

However, we say that is yet another contradiction.

Surely we are assisting police in the execution of their duties – that is if their duty is to make our roads safer and slow down motorists at that particular “black spot” as determined by the positioning of a radar unit!

If police duties are to collect revenue, then, yes, we are preventing them from doing their tax-collecting “duty”.

It seems the collecting of revenue is quite lucrative not just from speeding motorists, but those trying to do the right thing in warning other motorists to slow down.

    1. Hi Russell,
      I have asked for the Victorian stats on fines, but won’t get them for another week or so.
      However, the relevant penalty notice in Victoria is ‘fail to dip headlights’ which comes with a $238 fine and one demerit point.

      1. Cheers Mark!
        It will be interesting to see if you get a response… 🙂

        From what I can gather, the issue is more the fact that it is illegal to “dazzle” oncoming drivers…
        Given that most “flashing”probably occurs during daylight hours, I really can’t see how a few flashes of hi-beam is gonna cause “dazzle” to anyone though… :/

        But, I guess it’s a bit like “lane filtering” was before it was legalised, there was nothing in the rule book to say it was illegal but, they’d usually get you for breaking another rule while doing it…

  1. The was another ill fated ad campaign for speed cameras where a guy was in a hospital bed being berated by his wife who was showing him the multiple pictures taken by multiple speed cameras. It was quickly pulled when people started to note that if there were police on patrol they would have stopped him before he had an accident or even the sight of a patrol car would have slowed him down but cameras do nothing but rake in revenue!

    Speed cameras are now killing far more people than they save, a speed camera properly located and sign posted can save a small percentage of people at an actual black spot (an actual black spot is one that speed alone was the major cause of multiple accidents resulting in death or injury not a suicide or medical event).
    The extra distraction and fatigue caused by speedo watching and traveling long distance at a snails pace and the degradation of driver skills and education caused by the over reliance on speed enforcement is now responsible for increased accidents injuries and fatalities at a time when improved vehicle technology and improved road quality should be reducing the road toll to an all time low.

  2. So flashing your high beam in a car is illegal (dazzling) so I assume if you just turn normal lights on and off that is OK as bikes have a compulsory lights on policy anyway so one can assume a normal beam must be “non-dazzling”.

    I’m also curious, if its only the flashing of light that offends the law, is the wurley-bird signal actually legal to use? It would seem so!

  3. If the wallopers are really so worried about drivers being dazzled by lights they should get off their backsides and start booking all the half-wits who drive illegally in clear conditions with their headlights and fog-lights on together, dazzling all and sundry the whole time they are on the road.

  4. IF high beams ‘dazzle’ people, i can only image what their flashing lights do to people???

  5. Flashing headlights is standard practice in the trucking industry particularly by the driver being overtaken to inform the overtaking driver of a tandem or long vehicle that they have passed the overtaken vehicle and that it is safe for them to merge back into their lane. Or to indicate that the driver who is in an oncoming truck is going to slow down and allow the opposing turning truck time to get across the intersection or driveway. This is particularly important in congested city traffic where cars usually don’t show trucks any consideration for the time and space they need to turn.

    It is also critical in country roads where livestock, or animal may be wandering across a road, or someone has broken down and stopped on the blind of a corner. or there is debris on the road. Or any other hazard including a speed trap whereby drivers are likely to be confronted by a sudden de-acceleration from the car in front of them who suddenly sees a radar and brakes.

    Police state that crime prevention is better than catching them after the act. So the sooner drivers slow down the better surely, rather than plumping up budget deficits.

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