a moral quandary

I’m pretty clear on most things, thanks to a good Catholic upbringing. I can feel guilty about ANYTHING… and usually do.

I also am pretty good at “doing the right thing”.

I am unfailingly polite and respectful, even to mean people.

If given too much change or charged the wrong price at a store, I will correct them.

I am kind to children and animals.

If I find a cell phone, a wallet or a wad of money in the parking lot, I bring it to the desk in hopes that it can be returned to its rightful owner.

But I’ve never figured out THIS:

You’re driving down the road and suddenly you come upon a police car parked in a hidden spot, waiting for speeders. You are OK, because you are a law-abiding citizen (or terminally cautious).

Now, here’s the dilemma that they never covered in catechism class: flashing your lights to warn on-coming traffic … courteous? or subversive?

I can’t decide.


12 thoughts on “a moral quandary

  1. Assuming it’s not on approach to a school or similar area, Stick it to the man! and warn them about devious policeman just trying to reach his revenue targets.

  2. Use your judgement. I’m sure Ben is right about revenue targets, but there are some vehicles out there being driven by the unwashed – let them contribute to the speed tax. You can usually tell who’s a dork. Don’t flash them. On the other hand there are working stiffs in beat up old P/U trucks who are late for work, and they can ill afford speeding tickets. Warn them. Let the law be applied to serious matters. Sometime I must tell you how Margaret swayed a jury. I’m very proud of her.

  3. WARN THEM!!! As one who has gotten WAY too many tickets, I appreciate the occasional warning. What’s the result? I slow down. That’s what that cop is there to do too, right, slow traffic down. The only thing is that I don’t have to fork out another $200 to the cops, which in turn wastes $1000 of administrative dollars dealing with it.

    So, flash the brights. The result is all positive – people slow down (making the roads safer) – and you help people avoid those nasty tickets.

  4. I don’t know the answer to this conundrum either. However, if you accidentally flash an oncoming police officer (marked or not), you can get yourself in BIG TROUBLE. Yuck.

    I typically don’t flash people for speed traps, but I do flash them when I think a situation ahead could cause them trouble if they’re not already driving slowly — car accidents, road construction, bicyclists riding in the dark and the like — especially when the obstruction is around a blind corner.

  5. Yeah I heard that flashing is illegal, but being my rebellious self, I do it anyways. To hell with law!

  6. I’m with adamclyde… the net result is the same, minus the financial and time-consuming burden on the other driver. I don’t see a quandary here at all, rather, you are helping -both- parties; the drivers AND the law enforcement officer.

  7. Never. The context here is the road just south of 128 between Braintree and Randolph. I would take a ticket for going 10 miles over the 30 mph limit, which most do. However, if I flash my lights, I am giving the one in ten guy who drives 15 or 20 over a tip of the cap I don’t think he deserves.

    Any other context, I still don’t do the light flash. Driving is for good drivers, not bad ones who all of the sudden see a set of brights and decide to slow down. Jason – your comment is taken into consideration, and still, I don’t like to be a yahoo helping beat the cops, which is how the bright light warning system feels to me.

  8. 1) I can’t agree that there is a direct correlation between speed and safety. 2) The police are not there to slow down traffic or THEY wouldn’t be subversive. 3) NO ONE gets in “trouble” for “warning” other drivers to an unexpected slowdown as is created by sudden recognition of said subversive police. Car and Driver magazine has done several exposés on New Hampshire police who troll victims into trailing them at prevailing traffic speeds (75-80) between distantly spaced exits on highways and then pull over up to ten cars at a time. New Hampshire’s second largest form of revenue is traffic violations. Warn – and warn vigorously. Live Free or Die my left cheek!

  9. I’ve been pulled over for accidentally flashing a cop. While he didn’t ticket me, I think it was only because he could clearly see how mortified I was. After that I looked it up – falsely signalling a police officer is grounds for a ticket in NY. Not sure about MA, but I haven’t flashed anyone since on the offchance there might be an officer hidden there somewhere. (now for dangerous stuff I’d do it anyway, but I can stand behind that one).

  10. KP

    I use the following equation to determine my response:

    (L(T + H) * D * A / C($)) * M = my response


    L is location (a factor of Town and Hiding place)
    D is Driver attribute
    A is age of vehicle
    C is Cost of vehicle driver is driving in $
    M is my mood

    Basically, Grandma driving that 63 Vette (or 2007 Jaq) convertible will be warned. But that 23 year old, bronze god (or godess) picking up a pack of smokes, using Dad’s (or Mom’s) 85 Porsche 911 WILL NOT be warned !!!

  11. Cynicism regarding revenue targets aside, the police and the drivers have the same general goal – safer highways. If, by flashing your headlights, you encourage other drivers to slow down to or below the speed limit, I think that we’re all better off.

  12. the Police are also there to let their presence be known, as a reminder for people to slow down. If you highbeam then you are acting as a Police advocate, no? 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s