Police try to prevent speed trap 'flashers'

Bicester Advertiser: PCs Chris Linzey and  Hannah Farrell PCs Chris Linzey and Hannah Farrell

DRIVERS who use their headlights to warn other motorists of hidden speed traps may get pulled over themselves by police.

Officers laid in wait for drivers helping others dodge speeding fines during an operation in Faringdon and pulled over two motorists for flashing their headlights.

It is believed the specific operation could have been the first of its kind in Oxfordshire, and drivers have been put on notice police may keep a closer eye on the problem.

In the check in Coxwell Road, two officers tracked speeds while two more checked for seatbelts, mobile phones, and those flashing lights further down the 30mph zone road.

The two drivers who were stopped and given advice for flashing their headlights.

Pc Hannah Farrell said the act was an obstruction of a police officer.

She said: “This is problem we often have and it impedes the safety work we are carrying out.

“We gave drivers words of advice on this particular occasion and will continue to do so if we see people doing it in the future.”

Flashing lights to warn others is only a crime if police can prove the vehicle they warned was speeding.

But if convicted, the top penalty for a driver would be a £1,000 fine or a month behind bars.

The Highway Code also states: “Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.”

Last night drivers criticised the move.

Driver Andy Beal, 54, from Sandy Lane in Blackbird Leys, said: “It’s not obstructing the police – it’s slowing the other driver down if he is going too fast.

“Which is what the speed cameras are also there to do.

“All it means is the police aren’t going to get the money from the fine.”

Harley Pouget, a company director at Oxford Fine Food, was stopped for driving at 29mph in 20mph zone St Giles, Oxford, in August.

He said he would not want to see the practice rolled out across the county, adding: “It’s a complete waste of time.

“Spending taxpayers’ money on the police harassing by and large innocent drivers is just silly.”

And former Oxfordshire County Council leader Keith Mitchell said: “I cannot condone people warning others of speed traps because it is illegal.

“But I wish the coppers would go out and catch real criminals.”

The force’s roads policing team said while there were no plans to specifically run operations to target drivers across the region, other drivers would be stopped if necessary.

Insp Robert Jarrett, from Oxfordshire Roads Policing, said: “Contrary to the view held by some, the police do not simply enforce speed limits for the sake of it – it is done to improve road safety and reduce the number of collisions and casualties on the region’s roads.

“At worst, the flashing of headlights to warn other motorists is potentially obstructing the police in the execution of their duty. At the very least it has the potential to cause undue dazzle and discomfort to other road users.”

Sat navs that warn drivers of fixed speed cameras do not obstruct police officers because the sites are published by Government.

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