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Think Before You “Flash”: When and Where to Use Your Hazard Lights

Your route home from work takes you right by the local high school. Usually, this is not an issue, but tonight there is some sort of game going on so there is a lot of traffic coming toward you in order to get into the school’s parking lot. There is one car ahead of you as you approach the school’s crosswalk. Lots of students are being dropped off, so you are cautious as you follow the car in front of you through the crosswalk. Suddenly, he slams on his brakes in the middle of the street.

To avoid rear-ending him, you too slam on your brakes, which puts your car in the middle of the crosswalk with nowhere to go. You try to get his attention, thinking maybe something is wrong, but as you are about to get out of your car to check on him, he turns on his hazard lights. Two seconds later, a slew of teenage girls in cheerleader outfits begins filing out of the van.

What is he thinking? Putting his flashers on does not give him the right to create his own drop-off zone. Not only is he blocking traffic but he’s also forcing you to block a crosswalk.

Should you be mad, or are you overreacting? He does have his flashers on, so is he in the right? You always thought hazards were meant to be used for hazardous situations. Is dropping off a bunch of cheerleaders so they don’t have to walk too far considered a hazardous situation?

Lawful Flasher Use

While laws regarding hazard light use are vague in many states, according to The American Automobile Association, in 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.”

Unfortunately, many drivers still believe that they can drive however they want or park wherever they want as long as they flick on their flashers. Not only is this frustrating to other drivers and unlawful, but it’s also potentially dangerous. Therefore, unless you’re experiencing one of the following lawful hazard situations, flashers should never be used as a way to preemptively warn others of your reckless driving. Lawful and safe use of hazards include:

  • When you are loading or unloading passengers in a designated zone
  • When stopped by a police officer
  • When you’re experiencing vehicle problems that prevent you from safely moving your vehicle
  • During emergency situations that prevent you from safely exiting traffic (chest pains, dizziness, heart attack, labor, etc.)
  • When your car breaks down in the middle of the road
  • After a car accident (if you’re unable to move your car to the shoulder)
  • During a funeral procession
  • When warning cars behind you to slow down for a potential obstruction (car accident, landslide, fallen tree, etc.)

Using Your Flashers Correctly is a Bright Idea

Using your hazards as a way to get a closer parking space, bypass traffic laws, or make your own  drop off/pick up zone isn’t a good idea. In fact, it could get you in serious trouble and seriously injured as well. Don’t risk the consequences—use your hazards properly to avoid tickets, jail time, and a lifetime of regret.

Spread the word about hazard light use to prevent frustrating situations and to keep your family safe and ticket free.  Simply click the Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus icons to instantly share this page with your friends and family. A simple click can help keep our roads clear and your loved ones safe and road-rage free. Please, share now.