So the latest way to scam the average law-abiding motorist is, it seems, not to crash for cash but to flash for cash. And we’re not talking here about dishevelled-looking men wearing raincoats, hanging around in the undergrowth.
The scam in this case involves innocent drivers being flashed to be let out of junctions, and then being driven into by the person who flashed. The gangs then put in false injury claims, often including claims for people who weren’t even in the car. These toe-rags also put in false claims for time off work – not that they know how to spell that particular word – as well as vehicle storage, recovery, vastly over-inflated repair bills and even replacement car hire.
In all, it’s estimated that the crash and/or flash for cash scammers cost the insurance industry nigh on £400 million a year. To you and me, that means we pay about £75 a year more for our car insurance than we otherwise would, just to pick up their tab.
Least pleasant of all, perhaps, is that the scammers tend to target the most vulnerable motorists (not much of a surprise, thinking about it). So they go for mums with kids on board, or elderly people who are on their own but driving new and expensive cars. Groups of burly-looking lads driving battered white vans are not, you’ll be amazed to discover, at the top of their list.
The whole thing, quite frankly, makes me sick. It makes me angry. It makes me want to do something, somehow, to fight back. So the next time someone flashes you, what are you going to do: pull out, grit your teeth and merely hope that the invitation to go is genuine, or wait and get honked by the drivers behind?
The Highway Code says, "Flashing headlights. 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. Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully."
But honestly, where does common courtesy come into that particular piece of advice? Or are we now so morally infirm as a society that manners no longer have a place in our everyday lives?
I think what I shall do the next time someone flashes me is this: I’ll wait a second, and then I’ll look into their eyes, look into their soul, and then go. And if they look like they’re about to sideswipe me, I’ll nail the accelerator wide open and give them an accident they won’t forget about any time soon. Or maybe, instead, I’ll just ignore the flash and wait for them to mosey on by. Kind of depends what sort of mood I’m in at the time, I guess.