When should you use your hazard lights?
Driving around, particularly in urban areas, it is not uncommon to see people using their hazard lights for a variety of situations – some of which are appropriate and some not. Laws regarding the use of hazard lights vary from state to state. So it is important to either check with your local police as to what is permissible in your state or click here. That said we are going to talk about a few common ways hazard lights are used and which ones are actually correct.
Those of us who have lived in Georgia know that the spring and summer seasons bring frequent heavy thunderstorms which often result in blinding rain and even hail. Driving along the freeway or side street in these conditions, you frequently see other cars with their hazard lights on. However, putting your hazards on in the rain is a bad idea. When driving in the rain you should make sure you turn on your headlights, taillights and windshield wipers. Using your hazard lights may make it hard for other drivers to tell which lane you are in or if you are planning on making a turn. When the driving conditions are truly unsafe due to bad weather you should safely pull off to the shoulder or into a nearby parking lot until the weather conditions improve.
It is also a bad idea to use your hazards when you are driving in heavy traffic. Using your hazard lights in traffic disables turn signals, making it hard for other drivers to figure out what you are going to do next. In the same vein, don’t use your hazards when a turn signal will do, this is unnecessary and increases the risk of an accident. Finally, using hazard lights when you are illegally parked does not suddenly make what you are doing legal. Double parking or “creating your own parking space” can block traffic, cause accidents, and result in you being cited or your car being towed.
Nevertheless, there are some situations in which using your hazard lights are the correct course of action. There are situations in which the police may pull you over for speeding or some other violation(s) but there may not be a safe location immediately available. When this occurs, it is a good idea to slow down, turn your hazards lights, and search for a safe place to pull over. This will let the officer know you are acknowledging and complying with his or her request to pull over.
It is also proper to use hazard lights when you are changing a flat tire, when your car has broken down, or you are waiting on a tow truck. A disabled vehicle creates a temporary road hazard. Having your hazards on makes both you and the vehicle more visible to other drivers and decreases the risk of an accident. Additionally, hazard lights are very important if your car breaks down in one of the main lanes of travel and can’t be moved out of traffic.
Funeral processions are one exception to the rules mentioned above. Customarily you drive with your hazard lights on as part of a funeral procession – even when the law otherwise prohibits it. Keeping these tips in mind will help keep you stay safe on the road. However, should you find yourself in an accident our lawyers at Georgia Trial Attorneys stand ready to help you. Give us a call!