We’ve all been there: The rain is pouring down in sheets, you’re white-knuckle holding the steering wheel of your car and the person in front of you suddenly turns on their yellow, blinking hazard lights, as if to say, “Here I am!”
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The only exception to the rule: if you’re part of a funeral procession.
Sgt. Mark Wysocky, Florida Highway Patrol spokesman, said people may think they’re helping others, but hazard lights can be misleading if used improperly.
“They may think they’re doing everybody a favor, but in reality they’re creating confusion,” Wysocky said, explaining that in some cars, the bulbs for hazard lights may be the same as the one for your brake lights or turn signals.
“People may think you’re stopped in the roadway,” Wysocky said.
So what should you do when the rain starts pouring down? Wysocky said to turn on your headlights and windshield wipers — as required by law — and pay close attention to your surroundings. But don’t stop on the side of the road. Rather, exit the roadway and get to a safe place.
Florida law enforcement agencies and officials in the past have used social media to remind residents to stop turning those hazard lights on in the rain.
“Hazard lights are designed to let other drivers know your car is NOT working,” Florida Highway Patrol’s Orlando branch tweeted. “Please only use hazard lights in a stationary position.”
This doesn’t just apply to Floridians. A metro Atlanta police department recently warned its residents that using hazard lights while you’re driving may incorrectly signal to other motorists that you’re stopped or otherwise traveling much slower than other traffic.