RSO issues ‘flash for cash’ guidance
Westminster’s road safety officer has issued advice to motorists to help them avoid becoming embroiled in a ‘flash for cash’ insurance scam, and ultimately help keep insurance premiums down.
A new insurance scam, where criminals flash their lights to let other drivers out of a junction and then crash into them on purpose, was covered on this newsfeed on 16 August.
Peter Wilson, commissioning officer (road safety education) with Westminster City Council, is advising motorists to follow instructions in Paragraphs 110 and 111 of the Highway Code which cover the issue of flashing headlights.
Paragraph 110 says: “Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.”
And paragraph 111 says: “Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully.”
Peter Wilson added: “In the event of an incident use a camera or mobile phone and take pictures of all occupants and the inside of the other vehicle.
“If the head restraints in the other vehicle are not set at the appropriate height, this may show diminished responsibility for any claim and reduce any payout.
“Photographing the inside of the other vehicle may also cause a claim to go away and/or reduce the potential of a vehicle filling up with bogus passengers who are claiming.
“If by doing this we are able to help reduce insurance payouts, this may in turn also help keep insurance costs down.”
For more information contact Peter Wilson on 0207 641 2016.
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Dave: We appreciate your concern on the issue of these scams and compensation claims as a whole, but the article was simply reminding us of the correct use of headlamp flashing and with due dilligence by motorists, these 'arranged' accidents can be eradictaed - applies to deliberate rear-end shunts as well.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire
I understand your point, Honor, but I not sure you've grasped the sheer scale of the problem. No amount of advice or enforcement could even begin to solve even some of the symptoms, let alone tackle the root causes. The damage is so severe and endemic now that I can't see any practical solution other than a complete ban on injury compensation, except for cases so indisputable that they can be proved in court.
I have personal experience at the fringes of the injury compensation epidemic but even that was troublesome. Imagine being one of the people who was deliberately smashed into by one of these criminal gangs. You might suffer actual injury, feel intimidated by the accusation of causing it, feel the injustice of the lies told against you, the damage to your car, the financial loss. This is not an isolated problem, it's widespread.
Dave Finney, Slough
It is perhaps worth stating that by encouraging individuals to take photos of all occupants and the inside of the other vehicle, it may leave them open to some rather rash behavior from the other motorist. Perhaps a little caution could be advised when suggesting this approach.
Peter has put together some timely advice to inform motorists about this emerging scam and how to avoid being caught up in it. The advice has only just been published so there is no evidence on which to criticise him and say that this is an “ineffective attempt”.
It is what it is – information and advice provided to the motoring public to make them aware of the scam and advise them how to deal with it should it happen to them. Yes, the scam needs to be stopped and enforcement agencies and insurance companies are the people to do that, not Road Safety Officers. In the meantime, Peter, as a Road Safety Officer, is doing exactly what the law charges him to do - to provide information and advice to the community he serves.
Honor Byford, Vice Chair, Road Safety GB
Injury compensation makes a good case study showing that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. The RSOs advice might seem practical, but it's a short-term ineffective attempt to tackle the symptoms rather than the causes of wide-scale damage and fraud due to the injury compensation laws.
We know the potential benefits of injury compensation but, with only 150 words, I can't even start detailing all downsides (including £billions lost, rise in organised crime, more uninsured drivers etc) brought about because of injury compensation laws.
I appreciate the “fairness” it was supposed to bring, but injury compensation now causes orders of magnitude more cost, damage and trauma than any benefit it might bring. The symptoms are now so endemic and corrosive that the only way to retrieve any honesty and fairness is to scrap injury compensation completely, except where claims are proved to a jury in court.
Dave Finney, Slough
One of the curses of modern motoring is careless and carefree headlamp flashing. It can mean something or nothing and I find it best to ignore it and make my own mind up and not assume anything. I’m sure there have been genuine accidents and many near misses as a result of road users misinterpreting them - let alone contrived accidents.
Although the RSO’s advice is timely and correct, in this case ‘Use only as directed’ is easier said than done! Do we need flashers to be fitted to vehicles at all?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire