Don't flash your headlights at other motorists-Fiction!

Flashing Your Headlights At An Oncoming Car Could Get You Killed by a Gang MemberFiction!

Summary of eRumor:

A warning from law enforcement that if you see a car driving without headlights, don’t flash your headlights or in any other way try to signal the car about the lack of lights. The reason is that gang members, as a part of their initiation, are driving intentionally without headlights then are required to chase and shoot at anyone who tries to tell them the headlights are off.
One version that came up in 2005 says that September 23 and 24 are “blood initiation weekend” and that police departments across the nation are being warned to stay on the alert. The message claims to be from the DARE program.

The Truth:

This has circulated for more than 20 years, but there is no truth to it.

The folks at the DARE program deny that this email ever originated with them and on their website at they brand the warning as a hoax. The DARE program works among kids who are at risk to become gang members.  They describe themselves as giving kids “the life skills they need to avoid involvement with drugs, gangs, and violence.

Versions of the hoax email vary.  Some include a specific city where this is alleged to be happening and quote a police officer in that city.  Some refer to a particular weekend in which gang members will be doing their annual initiations such as around Halloween.

One widely circulated version of the eRumor came from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2004 but it has reappeared on a regular basis.  The email is signed by Orle Howat, Compensation Advisor for the RCMP.  A call to her phone number on the email, however, brought up a voice mail that said the story was an urban legend and to not take it seriously.  The RCMP later issued a release saying that “One of our Saskatchewan employees sent this e-mail on to others in good faith without realizing it was untrue. The information contained in the e-mail is FALSE and the RCMP regrets any unnecessary alarm this may have caused the public.”

There have been seasons when this eRumor has become so widely circulated that even police departments and government agencies have posted it without realizing it is not true or have had so many citizen reports of the hoax that they’ve braced themselves for dealing with the rumor itself.  According to an article in the Houston Chronicle in September of 2003, officers in Houston and Harris county were on alert one weekend because of warnings of the gang/headlight initiation.  In 1993 police in Wichita, Kansas, thought they had a shooting that may have been prompted by the the rumor. A woman was shot at after flashing her lights at a pickup that was driving without lights.  No one was injured and there was no indication that it was gang activity.  There have been other incidents of road rage that might loosely fit what is described in the eRumor, we have never found any documentation of this being a gang ritual or a valid warning from a law enforcement agency.

Last updated 9/23/05