You are driving down the road and you see a police car tucked away at the side of the road or highway.
Or, you see a cop standing by a speeding camera and you know they’re clocking unsuspecting speeders.
It has become a common practice among drivers to give a heads-up to oncoming traffic by flashing their headlights or high beams, warning them there’s a speed trap, or police car, up ahead.
Have you ever wondered, though, if what you’re doing is legal?
FACT: The Highway Traffic Act does not specifically address, under any section, the flashing of lights to warn other drivers of a speed trap
FACT: Police officers in Ontario have been known to issue tickets to drivers who warn others under the Highway Traffic Act, section 169 (2), which prohibits the use of "highbeam headlights that produce alternating flashes of white light" by non "public utility emergency vehicles"
FACT: Section 168 of the HTA, which addresses the improper use of highbeams in a way that distracts other drivers, has also been cited for nighttime flashes
FACT: While there's no specific law forbidding the act of warning other drivers about police presence, officers can pull over any vehicle on the road for inspection and may issue tickets for other offences, e.g. driver's status, outstanding tickets or warrants, or the fitness of the vehicle itself
FACT: Warning drivers of upcoming speed traps may enable others to continue unsafe driving habits
In short, the act is not specifically prohibited by provincial legislation, but you can still be successfully ticketed under a wide interpretation of the Highway Traffic Act, section 168.
Consider yourself warned.