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Don't Flash The Headlights

The Story:

A new and disturbing gang ritual has surfaced (or, 're-surfaced) in major cities across North America. It goes something like this:

The new gang member must perform the flashing headlight game to completion in order to become a full-fledged member of a particular gang. The flashing headlight game is deadly and the new gang member has to take a car along the outskirts of the city, out onto the highway during night-time hours - minus the use of headlights. The first on-coming vehicle to 'flash' the initiate's car (a warning to 'turn the headlights on') becomes the gang member's "Prey."

At the first sign of flashing headlights, the gang member is to rapidly change direction and 'give chase' to the car and person who flashed. If the chase culminates in the "flashing driver" pulling over to the side of the road, the gang member is to promptly and fatally shoot the person and leave the scene. If the driver (prey) keeps driving, the gang member is to use increasing speed on the highway and exert ever more dangerous driving tactics until the 'prey' vehicle crashes or is forced off the road. If the 'crash' is questionable and the vehicle is not plainly "totalled," beyond recognition, the gang member is supposed to follow up, go to the crash scene and make sure the driver has expired. If the driver is only injured, the initiate is to shoot the driver dead.

The gang member is to be merciless and this chase game is only supposed to have one result - the death of the person who flashed the headlights.

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To Flash or Not To Flash


Tailor-made Stories

This urban legend is easily tailored for specific regions and dates. Sometimes the story is told with a very particular highway or road mentioned, such as Interstate 70 or I-66. In doing so, a storyteller can bring the scare of this story to bear upon the physical area in which the story is being told, in order to heighten the fear or general discomfort of listeners.

Sometimes emails are distributed on the internet, stating that the "Gang Initiaion" activities have suddenly been reported in certain states, near particular towns, etc.

Email distribution of urban legends such as this Gang Initiation tale seem to be quite as effective as storytelling in small groups. Certainly, an email sent with a subject line of "Police Issue Warning About Gang Initiations" attracts attention and may get people talking and carrying the story offline, too. By contrast, an email which acts as an info-bulletin can be spread in forwarded emails by thousands of people in a matter of hours or minutes...

Obviously, if you receive such an email, be sure to check details carefully, take note of the towns, highways or roadways mentioned in the email - and drop me a line if the story is particularly unique.

It might be fun for you to do a little urban legend research on your own...and although you will probably find the 'real story' to be just a rumour, part of the fun of urban legends is in trying to find out where they come from, why people pass along these legends and also why people develop these stories.

When you're driving along a lonely highway or roadway at night, be sure to drive carefully and to use your common sense in any situation you might encounter on the road...and think carefully before flashing your lights...

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Gang Initiation on Don't Be Dumb Segment

Legend Works Great in Thriller and Horror Movies

Have you seen any horror movies lately? Or the Urban Legend movie series?

The Gang Initiation or Don't Flash The Headlights legend has been used in a number of films since the early 80s. It gets talked about in the Scream movie series and also in the Urban Legend movie series.

The movie, I Know What You Did Last Summer is loosely influenced by this legend, as well - in the highway night driving scene early in the movie.

Is This Urban Legend about Safety?


mythbuster (author) from Utopia, Oz, You Decide on March 31, 2009:

Yes, I agree - a very bad game

me on November 28, 2008:

This is a very bad game

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