How to Use Your Hazard Lights the Right Way

How to Use Your Hazard Lights the Right Way

There is a right way and a wrong way to use your hazard lights. This might surprise you, and you might be even more shocked to learn some of the wrong ways.

What’s the purpose of using the double blinkers on your car? These lights, also called hazards, are used to signal something to other drivers, but do you know what that is? You might be sending the wrong message or a message that isn’t easily understood if you use your hazards the wrong way. Let’s take a look.

State Laws Dictate the Use Of These Lights

Some states allow the use of hazards when you’re driving well below the speed limit, but other states do not. You need to know what the laws are in your state and in other states while driving. It’s unlikely you’ll be pulled over and stopped if you have these lights on while driving slowly in a downpour, but then again, if it’s not permitted in that state, you could get a ticket. Before you worry about the general rules of these lights, know the guidelines in each state you drive through.

When Should You Avoid Using Your Hazard Lights

Sometimes, you need to leave the blinkers off, but most of us think those hazards are going to tell other drivers that we are aware of something. Let’s look at some times when you need to keep these lights off.

These Lights Don’t Help Others See You Better

If visibility is poor and everyone on the road is driving slowly, you don’t need your hazards blinking away. In fact, if you’re going to make a lane change, other drivers won’t know that you intend to do this if both of your turn signal lights are blinking at them. Instead of using these lights in bad weather, use your headlights and brake lights. If you still don’t feel comfortable driving, pull off to the side of the road.

Heavy Traffic is Not the Time for Indecisive Lights

Have you ever driven in heavy traffic? Many drivers become so impatient that they make several lane changes to get a couple of cars ahead of where they were. This is no time for blinkers that don’t tell drivers anything more than you’re in traffic with them and want some attention. Everyone is driving in this slow traffic; leave the hazard lights off.

Illegal Parking Isn’t a Good Time to Draw Attention to Your Car

Turning on your hazards doesn’t change the fact that you’ve parked illegally, even though many will argue this point. Find a legal parking spot and avoid parking in fire lanes, loading zones, or handicapped areas. It’s just rude to assume you have a right to park illegally when everyone else at the store parks the right way. You’re not special; go find a parking spot and keep your hazards turned off when you’re parking.

Your Turn Signals are Much Better at Signaling Your Intentions

There are times when you’ll use both your hazards and your turn signals. You need to know which one to use and when. If you have car trouble and are trying to get off of the road, use your turn signals until you’ve finally reached the safety of the side of the road. The turn signal tells other drivers where you want to go. They can pretty much figure out you’ve got a problem if you start heading toward the side of the road. Once you arrive at your safe place off of the road, you can turn your hazard lights on.

When Should You Use your Hazards?

If you can’t use these lights when parking illegally, in heavy traffic, or in bad weather, what good are they? Did the automaker mistakenly put these lights in your car? There are times when the hazards make sense. Let’s check out a few of them.

If You’re Getting Pulled Over, These Lights Communicate for You

When the blue lights begin flashing in your rearview mirror, it’s a good idea to signal to the officer that you understand and want to find a safe place to stop your car. Turn on your hazards for a few seconds to send this signal, and then find the first safe place to pull over. This could be the move you make that turns a ticket into a warning because you used these lights.

A Flat Tire Change is a Good Time

If you’re on the side of the road working on your car because you got a flat tire, this is when you should use your hazard lights. In fact, this is the specific situation these lights were designed for. This signals to other drivers that you’ve got a problem and they need to give you some extra space to work. Hopefully, most drivers will move to the lane furthest from where you’re changing the tires so that you have plenty of room to feel safe while you work.

Use These Lights While Waiting for a Tow

When your car breaks down, and you need a tow, this is a good time to put your hazards on. This is especially true if you happen to be blocking a lane of traffic and need other drivers to know they should drive around you in the other lane. This is another situation for which these lights were designed.

Funeral Processions Typically Require Hazards to Be Used

One of the exceptions to driving with the hazard lights on is when you’re driving in a funeral procession. This is pretty normal, even in states that prohibit this activity otherwise. Go ahead and hit that button to let others know you’re part of the group celebrating the life and mourning the death of a loved one. On an aside note, if you see a funeral procession, it’s a common courtesy to pull to the side of the road and wait until all cars have passed if you can. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but it’s a nice courtesy.

Now you know more about when you should use your hazard lights. Stop using them for parking illegally and save them for when you truly need them to signal to other drivers.

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