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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Flashing rear lights are not a very good idea, especially at nighttime. We tend to visually estimate distances by measuring the relative motion between the lighted object and its surroundings. Constantly interupting the light source compromises this ability, so drivers coming up behind are not as sure as they would otherwise be, exactly where the "flashing" object is. An intoxicated driver (precisely the sort of driver we would be most concerned about) would be especially prone to this sort of problem. I have heard this put forward as one theory that would explain the relatively large number of intoxicated drivers that end up crashing into the back of highway patrol vehicles that are stopped by the side of the road with their lights flashing.

I don't mean to suggest that the accepted motorcycling technique of "flashing" the high beams at vehicles we suspect may pull out in front of us, or "tapping" the brakes a couple of time to alert a driver coming up too fast behind us is incorrect. A couple of flashes, controlled by the rider, can certainly not hurt. My concern is a sustained constant flashing, controlled by the action of the brake pedal or lever, may in actual fact do more harm than good.

I would prefer to see some scientifically controlled study that showed the effectiveness of such devices, rather than relying on the unscientific claims of the flasher makers. Lastly, the Hurt Report (USC, 1981), a scientific study of 900 motorcycle collisions reported that a mere 5.5% of all accidents occured in the 5 o'clock to 7 o'clock range. Moreover, I question how many, if any of such statistically rare accidents would have been prevented by the use of such flashing devices.
 
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