It's almost a courtesy thing behind the wheel but is it legal for Illinois drivers to flash their headlights?

We love when other drivers are good and helpful to us. That includes doing this like using their turn signals, letting us merge into traffic or get in front of them if we need to, and just being an all-around considerate person. Bless all of you who fit that description.


Not all of the kind stuff was taught in Driver's Ed though and that includes this specific thing. You're driving merrily along and a car in the oncoming lane flashes its lights at you. What do you do? Of course you slow down, because that's the signal that there's a police car somewhere ahead or that you're entering a speed trap.

This trick has helped me several times during my driving life and I learned it was a nice thing to do.

For Starters, It's Not A Gang Initiation Ritual

An urban myth was that a potential gang member would have to kill whoever flashed their car headlights at them. Snopes debunked that and so did Reuters. It started with a rumor back in 1980 when someone from Montana heard that that was a Hell's Angels initiation.

Even the notorious gang the Bloods held a press conference back in 2006 to put that myth to bed.

It's Widely Accepted But Is The Law Okay With It?


If you took Driver's Ed in Illinois, there's a reason you weren't taught to do it. Illinois Vehicle Code forbids flashing your lights at someone to warn them of a speed trap. The fancy legal verbiage:

...flashing lights are prohibited on motor vehicles except as expressly authorized in this Chapter or as a means for indicating a right or left turn, lane change, or a maneuver of a vehicle from a direct course of travel...Unless otherwise expressly authorized by this Code, all other lighting or combination of lighting on any vehicle shall be prohibited.

Translated: The speed trap warning headlight flashes aren't a thing you need to be doing. So is the practice helpful? Yes. Legal in Illinois? Not so much. Will people continue to do it? Also yes.

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