You might have experienced this at least once – a driver coming from the opposite direction flashes their headlights at you. It’s a sign that the police are nearby, checking for speeding cars. Although it may seem like a helpful gesture, flashing (blinking) your headlights can actually be considered an offense in Poland, and you could end up with a ticket. So, how much could this cost you? Let’s find out.
Flashing your headlights to warn others of police control might be seen as a good habit among drivers. It signals that there are officers up ahead, so it’s best to slow down to avoid getting a ticket for speeding. On one hand, this warning gets drivers to ease off the gas, contributing to road safety. However, on the other hand, regulations clearly state that flashing your headlights is against the law in Poland.
Can You Get a Penalty for Warning Others About Police?
In theory, flashing your high beams should be used only to warn oncoming drivers of potential hazards. It’s allowed when, for example, there’s a group of deer nearby that crossed the road a few hundred meters earlier. It’s also often used and permitted to inform another driver to switch from dazzling high beams to low beams or to alert them of their vehicle’s lack of lights.
In practice, though, high beam flashing is frequently used to warn other drivers of police control.
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According to the Regulation of the Prime Minister of Poland of November 24, 2003, on the amount of fines imposed for selected types of offenses, flashing headlights in a car is listed under „using traffic lights in a manner inconsistent with the regulations”.This means that the legislator considers this action in Pland a misdemeanor, which carries a fine and penalty points.
So, what’s the penalty for flashing your headlights? Any driver who uses high-beam lights in a manner inconsistent with the regulations may receive a fine based on the ticket scale. By flashing your headlights at other drivers to warn them of police presence, you might quickly find yourself „in the crosshairs” of the police. Officers are particularly sensitive to such behavior.
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Why Flashing Your Headlights is Forbidden?
You might think that punishing drivers for warning others about police with their car lights is just an easy way to fill budget gaps. However, the police are vigilant about this kind of behavior. After all, by flashing your lights, you could be warning not only a speeding driver, who already poses a threat to others, but also someone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Unknowingly, your warning could help a criminal escape justice.
Moreover, it seems somewhat unfair that the person warning others by flashing their headlights receives a fine, while the driver being warned can simply speed up again after passing the patrol, breaking the law with impunity. The question of whether flashing your headlights to warn others of a road check is ethical isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.
It’s important to note that although flashing headlights is the most common and straightforward way to warn others of police presence, drivers have other methods to achieve the same effect. Information about patrols can be shared through CB radios or smartphone apps. Apps that connect driver communities and continuously monitor speed controls are becoming increasingly popular among motorists. Importantly, using these apps to inform others about police controls is legal and allowed.
Therefore, flashing your high beams to warn other drivers of police is prohibited.
So When Can You Use High Beams?
They light up a considerable distance ahead of your vehicle. Because of this, they should only be used in specific situations, as they can blind other drivers and potentially lead to accidents or collisions. You may use high beams from dusk to dawn on unlit roads instead of low beams or together with them, as long as they don’t blind other drivers or pedestrians in a line.
High beams can be used in certain situations, but with caution. Additionally, you should switch to low beams when:
- Approaching a vehicle in front if its driver may be blinded,
- Approaching an oncoming vehicle if the other driver has turned off their high beams,
- Approaching a water transport or rail vehicle if there’s a chance of blinding the drivers of these vehicles.
Keep in mind that using high beams depends on road lighting, such as street lamps, and is irrelevant to whether the road is in a built-up area or not. High beams shouldn’t be used during the day, even in situations of limited visibility.
Flashing Lights Fine – How Much Will It Cost You?
Now that you’re aware of the penalty for warning others about police with high beams, let’s discuss the specifics. The current fine for flashing lights is PLN 200. Additionally, you can receive 3 penalty points for using high beams in a manner that doesn’t comply with regulations.
How We Should Communicate With Other Drivers?
Good communication between drivers can help avoid many hazards, such as properly signaling intentions to change lanes, which can prevent collisions. On the other hand, excessive „courtesy” towards other drivers may inadvertently warn a dangerous criminal before encountering a police patrol. So, how should drivers communicate with other road users properly?
Using turn signals according to regulations in Poland allows you to inform other drivers of your intentions. This not only increases road safety but also improves traffic flow. Turn signals indicate your intention to turn or change lanes, but remember to activate them at the right time.
Signaling your intention to turn too early can be dangerous, especially when there is more than one possible exit in your path, and you use the indicator before the exit you don’t intend to take. This can confuse other drivers exiting from that road. Conversely, signaling a lane change too late doesn’t allow other drivers to react appropriately, such as reducing speed. Many drivers turn on the signal only when entering the adjacent lane, which can be risky.
As the name suggests, emergency lights are primarily used in Poland to signal a stop in situations where further driving is impossible due to the vehicle’s technical condition. Even after an accident involving casualties, the vehicle must not be removed from the roadway until the police arrive, and oncoming drivers must be warned of the car’s presence on the road. Hazard lights can also signal danger, such as sudden braking on a highway.
When should these lights not be used? „Hazard lights must not be used as an excuse for parking in an unauthorized place if the vehicle is in working order. They should also not be used when towing a car.
Many drivers in Poland also misuse the horn. It’s essential to remember that the horn is intended to warn of danger. However, it shouldn’t be used to express negative emotions, for example, when the driver in front of you doesn’t move quickly enough on a green light. Such behavior doesn’t improve safety and can cause stress for other road users.
Using headlights contrary to their intended purpose is not allowed and comes with penalties. A ticket for flashing lights and a few penalty points is a significant penalty for an action that only seems right in theory.
On one hand, warning other drivers does lead to an immediate reduction in speed, which, whether intended or not, contributes to improved road safety. Unfortunately, regulations are regulations, and in the ticket scale, flashing lights are categorized as „using traffic lights in a manner inconsistent with the regulations,” punishable by a fine of PLN 200.
Some may view this as an easy way to patch a hole in the budget, but the police are alert to such behavior. After all, you could inadvertently warn a driver under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a criminal who may escape justice due to your signal.
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Moreover, it seems somewhat unfair that the warning driver faces a penalty, while the warned person can simply resume speeding once they pass the patrol, continuing to break the rules.
Drivers are also aware of alternative methods for warning about police presence. Information about patrols can be shared via CB radio or through increasingly popular smartphone apps that connect drivers’ communities and continuously monitor speed checks.