Piston Slap: Taking Bread From The Five-Oh?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap taking bread from the five oh

Brad writes:

Sajeev, fellow travelers, and the best and brightest: due to my job, I spend a great deal of time on I-70 between St Louis and KC. I often see the police of one sort or another staking out the highway looking for speeders. I have been warned many times by drivers going the opposite direction flashing their lights and I usually do the same when I can.

The question is, is flashing the lights illegal or immoral or for some other reasons not a good idea?

Do you do it? How long do you keep it up, 1/2 mile, 1 mile, more?

Sajeev Answers:

Flashing your car’s brights is necessary for several reasons, especially with the left-lane hoggers in the United States . That said, flashing to rob the Five-Oh of some precious game is not always a “bright” idea. Some municipalities don’t take kindly to taking food outta their mouths: as the wiki link above shows, perhaps the Police can bust you for “obstructing a police investigation?” I don’t know, and I sure as hell don’t wanna find out.

But I still flash when possible. Giving good karma to fellow motorists is nice, provided you spot oncoming Police Interceptors from about mile away. This is one reason why I stop flashing before traveling a mile from the bogey. I don’t fear gang initiations from my actions, but as a kid growing up in South West Alief Texas, I’m not going out of my way to help every motorist avoid a ticket. No need to get that risky with my own license.

Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

Sort of like condoms for your car, don’t rely on the high beam flashing of others: buy a frickin’ radar detector. Just make sure it is legal in your state. While any unit will do fine, I’ll go out of my way and give mad props to my Valentine One. And the V1’s amazingly easy to “hard wire” power cable: it’s just a telephone cord. Once you get used to V1’s multi-directional threat indicators, you realize that some items are truly worth the insane asking price.

Get used to the communication method(s) of your radar detector, mount it near your rearview mirror, and you’ll use it as a gauge just like your tachometer. They are that necessary.

(Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com)

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3 of 60 comments
  • R H R H on Sep 14, 2010

    A couple of notes: As a motorcyclist I think I tend to look farther ahead than most car drivers. I save ~ 2-3 cagers a year from tickets by cops I see up ahead that other people don't notice. That still doesn't keep the other ones out of their cell phones, shaving, etc. If you ever want to thank a motorcyclist who saved you from a ticket, don't tailgate & turn off all your distractions. We all thank you. In Illinois it's legal to have a permanently flashing headlight on a motorcycle as a way to be "seen". A motorcyclist flashing his headlight at a consistent rate several times per second might just be normal and not mean anything. Look for the pat on the head of other motorcyclists. Learn what it means. Teach others and you might save them a ticket. I've been driving for almost 20 years and have never received a moving violation. I think it's a combination of luck and common sense. I've been motorcycling for 5. * If you don't know where the cops are already or where they might be hiding and are unfamiliar with the area, get out of the left lane, don't tailgate & follow the flow of traffic * Find a point man (I think you guys call it "rabbit"). Make sure he's going faster than you. * Know and look what is 2, 3 and 10+ seconds ahead. * Don't tailgate. Just don't do it. * Stay out of the left lane. It seems (IMHO) that radar cops target this lane the most.

  • M 1 M 1 on Sep 14, 2010

    The V1 truly is the best radar detector out there, hands down. I own several. Once while traveling through the god-awful state of Virginia, a state in which even knowing how to spell "radar detector" is apparently punishable by roadside summary execution, I had my V1 jammed down inside a dashboard storage compartment in my Ram. But I had mistakenly left it plugged in, and to my surprise it still clearly and correctly picked up the radar of oncoming police. It regularly picks up signals from so far away that I sometimes doubt it, even after all these years. And in a completely bizarre coincidence it once legitimately tracked six separate state DOT radars -- two parked, one oncoming, two with a trucker pulled over, and one going by on an overpass (this was shortly after 9/11 when there were several truck-bomb scares). Incidentally, it is believed that because the V1 does not rely on the same type of radio antenna used by virtually every other radar detector, it can't itself be detected by police "radar detector detectors" because its antenna design can't be "tricked" into reflecting the right kind of signal that gives away other brands. About 10 years ago, I had a friend who worked at Sound Advice. We tested the V1 side-by-side with every high-end detector he could borrow from the shop. In real-world use there simply is no comparison. Mine have more than paid for themselves many times over.

    • Frizzlefry Frizzlefry on Sep 14, 2010

      The V1 can be detected by the police. Mind you a cheap detector can be picked up at 1500+ feet. The V1 averages about 400-500 feet. There are detectors like the Bel STI Driver that are 100% invisible and are pretty good detectors. But if detectors are legal where you are, use a V1.

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