You web browser may not be properly supported. To use this site and all its features we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Safari or Firefox

Car Headlights 628X290

You know the old Aussie tradition: see a cop car or unmarked speed camera and flash your headlights to warn other drivers. But is it legal? And when can you use your headlights legally? We give you the basics.

The legal purpose of headlights

According to Section 215 of the Australian Road Rules (2006), low-beam headlights must be used for driving at night or in hazardous conditions that cause reduced visibility – playing a clear role in avoiding and preventing accidents.

In fact, since the introduction of daytime running lamps (DRL) on vehicles in Australia, there has been a reduction of multiple vehicle injury accidents by up to 20 per cent and a reduction of fatal pedestrian accidents by up to 28 per cent.

However, when it comes to high-beam headlights, the road rules are stricter. This is because high-beam headlights have a stronger propensity to dazzle other road users, sometimes to the point of momentary blindness.

To flash or not to flash

While there is no specific road rule against flashing your lights with the purpose to warn other drivers, there are rules that can be (and often are) flexibly applied to the situation.

Therefore, it’s worth noting these rules and the fines that apply.

Flashing close to oncoming traffic

According to section 218 of the Australian Road Rules (2006), if you’re using high-beam headlights, you need to have at least a 200-metre buffer in front of your vehicle or any oncoming vehicle. However, if the driver is overtaking a vehicle, the driver may briefly switch the headlights from low-beam to high-beam immediately before the driver begins to overtake the vehicle.

Flashing to ‘dazzle’

Section 219 of the Australian Road Rules (2006) also prohibits you from flashing your lights to dazzle other road users.

If you get caught doing so in Victoria, you could face an on-the-spot fine of three penalty points ($455.01 as at 2015-16).

Laws state-by-state

The Australian Road Rules are not necessarily followed to the letter by each state – they are part of a national scheme to provide uniform road laws throughout Australia. Each state and territory is governed by its own set of road rules and it's worth checking to see how the law is specifically applied in your state.

Recent developments

The Victorian government’s installation of concealed speed cameras in 2013 caused the media to raise the question of whether ‘flashing warnings’ to other road users would see more fines.

Victorian Police Traffic Superintendent Dean McWhirter responded by encouraging road users to continue the practice in the hopes that it would build awareness about those newly installed concealed cameras.

"If that occurs I am comfortable with that because it means actually people are getting the message [about the concealed speed cameras]," Supt McWhirter told the Herald Sun.

While that may have been the position in 2013 in Victoria, the situation now Australia-wide is uncertain and the practice is indeed a risky one.

One hopes that everyone is paying enough attention to the road that light flashing is wholly unnecessary.

For more information, speak to one of our team today.

Submit an online enquiry

We win cases like yours. Get in touch to find out how we can help.

Sorry, but we can't help you with that.

Unfortunately, we don't offer legal services in this area for non-union members.

To help solve your legal matter, we have a network of firms and associations we can recommend.

If you are a member of a union, please visit our Union Services page to find out how we can help.

How can we help? Back
Or

Did you know you can start your free claim check online by simply answering a few questions here here here here ?
Or
if you prefer, you can fill in the form below and we will give you a call back as soon as possible.

Thank you for your enquiry

Our Client Services team will be in touch with you shortly.

The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.

Thank you for your feedback.

Related blog posts

Compensation Law
30 years of the NSW Dust Diseases Tribunal

On 1 November 1989 Judge John O’Meally sat for the first time in the New South Wales Dust Diseases Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) when it heard its first case. This month, during Asbestos Awareness Month the Tribunal celebrated 30 years of operation. The Tribunal was created by the NSW Parliament after years of long delays in the Supreme Court and District Court which often saw plaintiffs suffering from dust diseases die before their cases could be heard. During the Second Reading Speech on 3 May 1989, Mr Dowd, the then NSW Attorney General said: Honourable members will be aware of the considerable delays that exist in the common law jurisdictions of both the Supreme Court and the...

Asbestos danger sign
Compensation Law
Abuse law and understanding the National Redress Scheme

The high-profile trial of Cardinal George Pell and his application for leave to appeal against the convictions being accepted by the High Court, as well as the Royal Commission in recent years, have shined a light on sex abuse in Australia. Bravehearts Foundation provides advice and support to those affected by child sexual assault. They provide child protection training and education programs, specialist child sexual assault counselling and support services. We have formed an alliance with Bravehearts Foundation who work very hard to prevent child sexual assault in our society. We have also linked up with Knowmore, who provide legal advice to abuse survivors by arming them with information...

Compensation Law
Mental health is the growing issue facing our workforce

It’s important for us to talk about mental health issues and psychological injuries in Victoria which appear to be on the rise. As a workers’ compensation lawyer, I see workers across most industries who need assistance in managing the compensation claims process in circumstances where they have suffered a workplace injury. Many of the injuries I hear about in the Dandenong area are often either in part or wholly psychological in nature. Psychological injuries are a common cause of workers’ compensation claims in Australia. In Victoria, they account for 14 per cent of new WorkCover claims (2018-19) and this statistic appears to be growing. When making a psychiatric injury claim,...

Woman tired at desk resized

We're here to help

Start your online claim check now. Or, if you have a question, get in touch with our team.