No, no, no, not that kind of flasher! I’m talking about the guy who flicks his lights at you, warning you to slow down, a good deed when the road ahead has vanished without a trace, but not when he’s warning of a motorcycle cop behind the next billboard or a radar trap disguised as a Good Humor truck. He thinks he’s doing you a favor. But actually, he’s foolishly endangering everyone, especially you.
Imagine a situation where the heavy-footed can be confident they won’t get caught. A few will do 50 in a 30 mph zone, convinced the flasher army will warn them. The more cautious will top out at 40 on the theory that, even if their fellow volunteers miss the radar trap because they’re texting, no cop would stop someone for going only 10 mph over the limit. A few will limit themselves to 30, assuming that the authorities may be more knowledgable about safe speed, or at least unwilling to risk the chance that the traffic cop had a fight with his wife this morning.
We now have in place the ingredients for mayhem, the bold intimidating the timid, the strong the weak, 50’s passing 40’s who are passing 30’s, all but the law-abiding braking suddenly as their fellow scofflaws flash Smokey ahead!, the laws of physics suggesting that, with their momentum, and in their panic, they will drive you off the road if, God forbid, they should lose control.
Beyond stupid and dangerous, flashing for a cop or a trap is criminal. OK, speeding or running a red light is a misdemeanor, not a felony. And the flasher, though probably a speeder and red-light-runner at heart (why else would he do it if not to have someone else return the favor?), isn’t necessarily breaking the law right now. He’s only doing what he considers his civic duty. But, however indirectly, he’s an accomplice in crime, encouraging others to break the law with impunity. He’s a minor-league cousin of the guy who drives the getaway car at a bank heist.
If the flasher claims he had no idea he was contributing to the Decline and Fall of Western Civilization, you might pass this well-reasoned thesis along to him. And, if he’s still not convinced, show him the picture on the right. I was just toodling along, some Mario Andretti wannabe passing me, when an oncoming car flashed, and Mario Jr. braked, skidded right, and sideswiped me. I think his license plate was FLSHR, or maybe it was BRNTSPD. By the time I glimpsed it, I was airborne and in no position — or mood — to write it down.