Why you shouldn’t use your hazard lights when driving in bad weather

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Why you shouldn’t use your hazard lights when driving in bad weather
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If you’ve ever been driving down the highway during a really bad storm, you’ve probably seen other drivers put on their hazard lights — and maybe you’ve done it as well.

But according to AAA, it’s actually illegal to use your flashers in a number of states

Read more: Why you should never ‘top off’ your gas tank

Are you breaking the law by using hazard lights?

Turning your hazards on makes all four turn signals flash at the same time, giving a heads-up to emergency crews that there’s a traffic hazard or problem. 

Those who use flashers during bad weather say it’s about increasing visibility.

But the Johns Creek Police Department, located outside Atlanta, says using the lights can make other drivers think you’re stopped or stalled. 

In addition, they turn off your ability to use your turn signals as you normally would.

According to police, if the weather is so bad that you can’t safely see while driving, pull over to a safe place until the storm passes. And use your hazard lights only when your car is stopped or disabled on the road.

While people will debate the use of hazard lights when it rains, Esurance.com says a widely accepted use for them is during funeral processions.

Curious about the law where you live? AAA provided this state-by-state breakdown:

  • Alabama: The use of hazard lights is permitted while driving unless otherwise posted.
  • Alaska: The use of hazard lights is not permitted while driving.
  • Arizona: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except in an emergency situation.
  • Arkansas: Hazard light usage is not permitted while driving except to indicate a traffic hazard.
  • California: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except to indicate a traffic hazard.
  • Colorado: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except if the vehicle speed is 25 mph or less.
  • Connecticut: Hazard light use is permitted while driving unless otherwise posted.
  • Delaware: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except to indicate a traffic hazard.
  • District of Columbia: Hazard light use is permitted while driving.
  • Florida: The use of hazard lights is not permitted while driving.
  • Georgia: The use of hazard lights is permitted while driving.
  • Hawaii: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving.
  • Idaho: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except to indicate the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing.
  • Illinois: The use of hazard lights is not permitted while driving.
  • Indiana: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except in emergency situations.
  • Iowa: The use of hazard lights are not permitted while driving except to indicate a traffic hazard.
  • Kansas: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving.
  • Kentucky: Hazard light use is permitted while driving.
  • Louisiana: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving.
  • Maine: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving unless to indicate a traffic hazard.
  • Maryland: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except in emergency situations.
  • Massachusetts: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving.
  • Michigan: Hazard light use is permitted while driving.
  • Minnesota: Hazard lights are not permitted while driving except to indicate a traffic hazard.
  • Mississippi: Hazard light usage is permitted while driving.
  • Missouri: Hazard light usage is permitted while driving.
  • Montana: Hazard lights are not permitted while driving except to indicate a traffic hazard.
  • Nebraska: Hazard light use is permitted while driving.
  • Nevada: Hazard light usage is not permitted while driving.
  • New Hampshire: Hazard light use is permitted while driving.
  • New Jersey: The use of hazard lights is permitted while driving.
  • New Mexico: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving.
  • New York: Hazard light use is permitted while driving unless otherwise posted.
  • North Carolina: Hazard light use is permitted while driving unless otherwise posted.
  • North Dakota: Hazard light use is permitted while driving unless otherwise posted.
  • Ohio: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except when a hazardous condition is present.
  • Oklahoma: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except in emergency situations and to indicate a traffic hazard.
  • Oregon: Hazard light use is permitted while driving unless otherwise posted.
  • Pennsylvania: Hazard light use is permitted while driving.
  • Rhode Island: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving.
  • South Carolina: Hazard lights may be used while driving for the purpose of warning the operators of other vehicles of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing.
  • South Dakota: Hazard light use is permitted while driving.
  • Tennessee: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except in emergency situations.
  • Texas: Hazard light use is permitted while driving.
  • Utah: Hazard light use is permitted while driving.
  • Vermont: Hazard light use is permitted while driving.
  • Virginia: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except for emergency vehicles, stopped or slowed vehicles to indicate a traffic hazard, when traveling as part of a funeral procession, or traveling slower than 30 mph.
  • Washington: Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except to indicate a traffic hazard.
  • West Virginia: Hazard lights are not permitted while driving except in emergency situations.
  • Wisconsin: Hazard lights are not permitted while driving except to indicate a traffic hazard or when a hazardous condition is present.
  • Wyoming: Hazard light use is permitted while driving.

Warning about using hazard lights in bad weather

While it’s common to see drivers use their hazard lights during bad weather, experts say it’s a bad idea — as it can incorrectly signal that you are stopped or driving at a very slow speed. Instead, authorities recommend using your low beams to make sure other drivers can see your car in hazardous conditions.

Read more: These SUVs did NOT perform well in a passenger-side crash test

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Mike Timmermann About the author: Mike Timmermann
Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, Save on Almost Everything.
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