Thursday, June 16, 2005

Flashing headlights save the day

Today as I was driving in to work, someone was flashing their lights at me. I knew immediately that this meant a cop was ahead, waved to them...and slowed down. Sure enough, my slowing down from 45mph to the posted speed limit of 25 saved me a ticket, as right around the corner there was a motorcycle cop. So thank you friendly motorist!

Growing up in California, the rumor was when lights were flashed at you, you were never to flash your lights back at this person as this was a signal. This signal meant they were a gang member, and would chase you down and shoot anyone that flashed their lights back. I never personally witnessed this, it was just something that my friends in high school always warned me about.

So, when I moved to Washington years ago, and someone flashed their lights at me, I remember having a conversation with some new friends about how "That could get them shot in California". Those friends explained to me that up here in Washington, flashing lights usually mean that a cop is ahead and you should slow down. I thought that was a neat idea, and since I didn't seem to be in danger of dying for it, I later started doing this myself.

Because of the internet, movies or simply word of mouth.....eventually, the "Flashing lights mean gang members are going to kill you" urban legend later spread around, as I eventually heard someone repeat it to me in Seattle when I told them about how I now used my flashing lights to warn people about cops.

They told me "That can get you killed in California".

I always thought this was funny, and today I found a website that chronicles the whole thing. Turns out this has been around for 20 years, and has almost never been true.

So if you see a police officer preparing a speed trap, PLEASE flash your lights to all the oncoming motorists. Some of us understand this does not mean we are going to die, and we really appreciate the warning to slow down. It saved me a ticket this morning.

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