Hazard warning lights are irregular flashing light indicators that flash together to warn other drivers of the temporary obstruction of the vehicle. These lights are also known as hazard lights or flashers. Hazard warning lights are when all the indicators of a vehicle flash on a continuous and simultaneous basis. When these lights are on, it means that the vehicle is not moving and other vehicles should know about it.
Generally, hazard lights are used in cases where your vehicle becomes a hazard for other drivers on the road or to increase your visibility in a potentially dangerous situation as break down or need to change a tire or in case of a medical emergency. However, many motorists inappropriately use these hazard warnings.
Different countries use hazard warning lights in different ways. In fact, even different states in the US have different laws for the use of Hazard lights. Thus, it becomes extremely important for you to know the laws in your area.
When Is It Recommended To Use Hazard Warning Lights While Driving?
It is very important for the drivers to know when to use hazard lights appropriately as using the hazard lights inappropriately can become a hazard not only for the driver but for others too on the road. Below are some of the probable situations where the use of Hazard lights is valid:
When you’re parked in a loading or unloading zone.
When you’re experiencing vehicle problems in which you can’t safely move.
When you are driving slowly.
To let other drivers know of an upcoming road hazard.
Emergency situations that prevent you from safely exiting traffic (chest pains, dizziness, heart attack, labor, etc.)
During a funeral procession (even for states like Louisiana when mobile hazards are otherwise prohibited)
While hazard lights can cause problems in low light or can even confuse other drivers if there aren’t specific road hazards, they are very useful to warn others of the risk ahead. But before you decide to use hazard lights, it is important to know all driving laws in your area.
What Driving Laws Say – Where can the Hazard Lights be used?
Oddly enough, the rules for using hazard light vary greatly from one state to another. Let us have a look at the state-by-state breakdown provided by the AAA:
The District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri: New Jersey, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, do not permitHazard light use while driving.
The states of Alabama, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon,permit the use ofhazard lights while driving unless otherwise posted.
The States of Arizona, Indiana, Maryland, West Virginia, Tennessee, do not permit the use ofHazard light while driving except in case of an emergency.
The states of Arkansas, California, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Minnesota, Washington,do not permitHazard light use while driving except to point out a traffic hazard.
The states of Alaska, Colorado (unless under 25 mph) Florida, Illinois, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island,do not permitHazard light use while driving.
When Should You Not Use Hazard Warning Lights?
If you are driving slowly, you may find it tempting and courteous to use hazard warning lights, but this is not something you should go for. Since all the 4 lights will flash in the hazard lights, you ought to face problems in changing lanes, junctions and indicating a turn. This inability will not only be highly dangerous for yourself but other drivers too since they have no way of identifying which direction you want to move onto.
Another case when it might feel suitable for you to use hazard warning lights is when you are moving slower than other traffic due to being lost or trying to locate an address, etc. But again, using hazard lights is not recommended in this case because it will render your indicators ineffective and will confuse other drivers on the road. If you land in such a situation, don’t panic. Instead, find an appropriate place to stop and wait, or wait for the traffic to subside.
Hazard Lights & Weather: Should you use your hazard warning lights in bad weather?
Did you ever land in a situation when you had to drive down the highway during a bad storm? You probably have seen some drivers putting on their hazard lights, perhaps even you too would have had done it yourself but is that what one should follow? Is it legal? Well, that’s a question to understand.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), it’s actually illegal to put on hazard lights while you drive in certain states and the reasons are valid too.
People who put on hazard lights during bad weather advocate that they do so to increase the visibility but in reality, the opposite happens. Let us tell you why:
When you turn on your hazard lights, all the four turn signals flash at the same time. Thus, this restricts your ability to use turn signals in case you need. Even if they work, it becomes hard to distinguish between hazard lights and a turn signal.
Your hazard light turned on sends a signal to others on the road that you have stalled or stopped, creating confusion for other drivers on the road.
A hazard light on sends on a warning signal of a traffic hazard or problem ahead.
Your hazard lights may make you more visible in the rain and alert other drivers that you are traveling below the speed limit, which may put you at risk.
As per police, if the weather is too bad that you are not able to properly see while driving, pull over to a safe place until the weather stabilizes. Use your hazard lights only when you’ve stopped the car or it has been disabled.
Dangers of Using Hazard Lights
Hazard Lights not only cause a significant amount of confusion for other drivers but also distract them when they see your hazards and start looking for potential dangers. In the process, they may miss something by taking their eyes off the road, which will eventually result in traffic slowdowns and disruption to the normal traffic flow.
Usage Tips when using Hazard Lights
Here are the few tips that can help you know about the hazard lights:
When the hazard lights are on, the signal Lights don’t work. You should pay great attention to the prevailing laws regarding the use of hazard lights in your area. Pay proper attention to when you can or cannot use the hazard lights so as to avoid any traffic law violation.
When you drive on the highway and foresee any potential hazard, you should use hazard lights to warn other drivers about the risk ahead. When your vehicle is stopped due to some technical problem in the vehicle or due to some emergency or medical issue with you, use hazard lights.
In case you want to turn on hazard lights while static, ensure that there is no object behind your car blocking the view to your car’s taillights.
In all, turning on the hazard lights flash all the 4 lights of your vehicle, making it unclear for the other drivers to anticipate which lane or direction you want to move, even if you give an indicator. Such unclear communication confuses other drivers on road and can pose you to a great danger than good. Same is the case where you turn on your hazard lights because you were driving slower than the prevailing traffic on the road. Most importantly, take proper knowledge on the use of the hazard lights in your area beforehand. After all, violating the law and illegally using the hazard lights would be the last thing on your mind to do, isn’t it?