The lights on your vehicle are one of the only forms of communication you have with other drivers on the road. The turn signal lets other motorists know what your next move may be. Are you turning right or left? Do you need to change lanes? The brake lights let other motorists know that you are slowing or stopping and they can plan accordingly. The hazard lights are there to let others know when there is a problem, and there is a right and a wrong way to use them.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of hazard light usage to help you stay both legal and safe when you are on the road.
Don’t use your vehicle’s hazard lights when:
- You are driving in inclement weather. When there is precipitation blurring road visibility and you turn on your hazard lights, other motorists may have a hard time determining which lane you are in or if you are changing lanes. Your headlights and taillights will suffice in bad weather. If you are worried, you should pull off the road and stop until weather conditions have improved. Remember, if you are in a dust storm to pull off to the side of the road and park your car, removing your foot from the brake and turning off all lights to avoid being hit by another vehicle.
- You are in heavy traffic. It is true that hazard lights make you more visible, but heavy traffic alone is not an excuse to use them. In some vehicle’s, when your hazard lights are engaged, your turn signals are disabled, which would make it difficult for other motorists to anticipate what it is you are doing.
- You are parked illegally. Contrary to popular belief, if you turn on the hazard lights on while parked illegally, it doesn’t make it legal. You need to find an appropriate place to park and avoid blocking traffic.
- You can use a turn signal instead. If you have slowed to exit the road due to a car problem, don’t immediately reach for the hazards. As was stated above, turn signals are often disabled when the hazards are on and other motorists may find it difficult to know what you are doing- which could result in a crash. Wait until you are safe on the shoulder and out of traffic to engage the hazards.
Do use your vehicle’s hazard lights when:
- You are being pulled over. When law enforcement has signaled for you to pull over, you can turn on your hazard lights to let them know that you got their signal and are following their request. Slow your speed, engage your hazard lights and pull over in a safe location.
- You are changing a tire on the roadside. You should use your hazard lights when your vehicle has become a potential hazard for other motorists. If you are on the side of the road changing a tire, your hazards allow for you to be seen and help keep everyone safe.
- You are broken down waiting for a tow. If this is the case your vehicle is a temporary hazard. Use your hazards to warn other motorists of your presence, especially if you cannot get your vehicle out of the line of traffic.
- You are part of a funeral procession. Vehicles involved in funeral processions customarily drive with the hazard lights on, even when otherwise prohibited. Funeral processions are the one exception to most hazard light rules.
It is also important that you are aware of any hazard light laws that your state may have. Here in Arizona, hazard light use is not permitted while driving except in an emergency. For a list of other hazard light laws by state, click here.
At Virginia Auto Service, we like to help people with their vehicles and road safety in any way that we can. We hope that you find these tips for proper hazard light use helpful. Remember, if your vehicle needs service, we are your go-to in Phoenix, AZ for reliable, high-quality auto repair services. Call (602) 266-0200 or schedule an appointment online.