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When to Use (And Not Use) Your Car’s Hazard Lights

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While hazard lights are a helpful safety feature to use in certain situations, excessively using this feature can cause confusion for other drivers on the road. Here’s a brief overview of which situations legitimize turning on your vehicle’s flashers — and which ones don’t. (Make sure to familiarize yourself with your own state’s regulations, though, since each state has its own regulations about this vehicle function.)

When to use hazard lights

In general, it’s ok to turn on the flashers when you feel like your parked or slow-traveling vehicle will endanger other drivers on the road. Here are four specific scenarios when you should use those bad boys.

Broken down vehicle

If your vehicle breaks down while driving and you’re currently waiting for a tow truck to arrive, turn on the hazard lights. Especially if the vehicle stops working in the middle of the road.

Funeral procession

In most states, it’s ok to turn on the flashers when driving in a funeral procession. This alerts other drivers that a funeral procession is taking place, and they should reduce their vehicle speed accordingly.

Pulled over by a cop

It’s a good idea to turn on the hazard lights when you notice that a police officer is waving you down. This will let the cop know that you’ve acknowledged the signal and are in the process of pulling over to a safe location.

Changing a flat tire

If you’re swapping out a flat tire with a new one on the side of the road, increase your visibility to other drivers by turning on your car’s flashers. This is especially helpful in inclement weather as well as early morning or late night drives with dim natural light.

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When to avoid using them

Inclement weather

One of the most common misuses of flashers is to use them during bad weather. While hazard lights might help increase roadside visibility when it rains or snows, more often than not, this signal confuses other drivers. Hazard lights usually disable turn signal use, which can prevent other drivers from anticipating when you need to turn or switch lanes. It’s best to rely on headlights and taillights when navigating through bad weather, instead of relying on flashers.

Illegally parking

Don’t be that dude who takes up two parking spaces, or a handicap parking space, and flips on the hazard lights while they run a quick errand inside of a retail store or gas station. It’s still considered illegal parking.

Heavy traffic

It can be tempting to use flashers to alert other drivers to super slow traffic on a busy road or highway. However, this can prevent other cars from knowing when you’re about to turn or change lanes.

As an alternative to a turn signal

If your vehicle starts to have an issue when you’re driving, refrain from turning on the hazard lights to signal when you exit the highway or make a turn. A turn signal is a safer way to communicate this information, since (as mentioned before), flashers can disable the turn signal function.

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News Sources: FirestoneMi Drive