Is It Illegal to Drive with Hazard Lights on?

Hazards lights are so bright and are to warn other drivers of any traffic hazard, queue, or your presence in a dark area for a temporary period. Now, I understand that many want to keep them on when driving to stay extra safe from vehicles to the rear from bumping. But it is still not an ideal thing to do.

Driving with a hazard light on is not illegal. But since it is not a light meant to be on without emergency reasons, others on the road can get confused. And it can be considered careless driving by the cops. So anyway, let’s discuss when to use hazard lights and when not to in this article.

What Is a Hazard Light?

As mentioned earlier, hazard lights are to warn vehicles to the rear (or sometimes front) about any traffic hazard ahead. The most common use of these lights is when your car has malfunctioned and stopped in the middle of the road. But obviously, it is against the laws to use hazard lights for illegal parking.

There are many types of hazard lights. And many states have rules about them too. For example, you can get a permit for a flashing hazard light in Georgia. But you must use them at the correct times. Some states also limit their colors to yellow or red.

According to the Ministry of Transportation (MOT), hazard lights must be wired so the driver can turn them on with only one button, regardless of whether the engine and ignitions are on or off. And to turn them on in your vehicle, you can find a red button with a white triangle or a black button with a red triangle.

Hazard Light

When to Use Hazard Lights?

There are many instances when using hazard lights is so necessary and can even prevent accidents. Usually, the following are the moments when hazard lights are meant to turn on-

When Your Vehicle Is Stationary

Suppose your car has stopped moving dangerously in the middle of the road. It is pretty risky for other drivers behind you. Hence, you must keep your hazard lights on until a tow truck starts to carry the car. Sadly, many misuse this by illegally parking their vehicles and turning their hazard lights on. But if one gets caught doing so, they may get a fine.

On Low Visibility Areas

If you are on any road with low visibility, you can turn the hazard lights on for a brief period to alert fast-moving vehicles behind you. But don’t keep them on for too long.

To Signal About a Queue

When your car is at the end of a chain of vehicles on any road with low visibility, the taillights usually suffice in alerting others at the rear. But some fast-moving cars may not get enough reaction time if it is in the middle of a one-way highway.

Having the hazard lights is okay here until the vehicles come close enough to observe your taillights. You should turn off the hazard lights as soon as another car has stopped behind you in the queue.

When There Is a Hazard Ahead

The most apparent use of a hazard light is when there is a real traffic hazard ahead that others may not see in time. For example, there can be a log on the road in a dark forest, rocks on a mountain road, stationary vehicles in front of you, or any environmental hazard. In these scenarios, turning on the hazard lights is ideal for warning others about the troubles ahead.

When Not to Use Hazard Lights?

You shouldn’t keep the hazard lights on in the following situations-

  • When there are already vehicles behind yours in a queue.
  • When the other vehicles to the rear are already close enough to yours that they can see your taillights.
  • When there is no reason for you to warn or alert other drivers.
  • When you are confident that other drivers have already seen your hazard light alert. They are only for temporary warning.

What Can Happen for Driving with the Hazard Lights on?

It is not illegal to drive with hazard lights on. But you may get fined if any accident happens because of your hazard lights or if your state has any law regarding these lights you are breaking. In most cases, it can be just a ticket or some number deduction. But it may also result in a fine of $100.

Final Note

Hazard lights are for hazards and emergency times. They are not to be on as you are driving. Yes, it is not illegal, but it may lead to confusion and accidents. Peace officers may also stop you because your hazard lights are dangerously glaring, and there is no reason to keep them on.

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