Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How To Use Hazard Lights

hazard lights

Your car is equipped with a number of different lights. Depending on the light in question, they serve purposes ranging from visibility to directionality to safety to convenience. Where do your hazard lights fit into that? Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than you might think, and there’s a chance that you’re using yours wrong.

Your hazard lights

Activating your hazard lights is generally straightforward. For most modern vehicles, you simply push the button on the dash or steering column (it’s marked with a red triangle). In others, there might be a switch you have to pull (usually in older vehicles). Turning your hazards on makes all four turn signals flash at the same time – a sign that there’s a hazard or something wrong.

When to use hazard lights

The real question about how to use hazard lights is more about when to use hazard lights. When should you use them? Oddly enough, the rules for hazard light use vary greatly from one state to another. Common across all states, though, is that you should use your hazards when your car is stationary on a highway outside of a lighted urban area. It’s about ensuring your vehicle is visible to oncoming cars.

Some states also allow you to turn on your hazard lights during inclement weather to increase visibility – snow, very heavy rain, etc. However, doing so might actually decrease your safety because in many cars, using the hazard lights disables your turn signals (they’re being used as flashers, and they don’t work when you attempt turn). Some states don’t let you use your hazards during inclement weather.

Other states mandate that you have your hazards on if you’re on the side of the road changing a flat tire (not all states do, though), and yet others state that it’s permissible to have your hazards on if your vehicle is being towed (a wise idea).

There are a handful of states that do not allow you to drive with your hazards on for any reason whatsoever. In the following states, you must be stationary to use your hazard lights:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado (over 25 MPH)
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island

Other states in the nation allow you to drive with your hazards on in all or most cases, or only in emergency or hazard situations. The best advice is to check with your state’s DMV or DOT to determine what laws apply to you.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

How Long Does a Vacuum Brake Booster Check Valve Last?
The braking system on your car requires a lot of pressure. The vacuum booster is one of the main sources of this pressure. This booster will take the pressure that...
How Long Does a Throttle Return Spring Last?
Not all vehicles on the road feature an electronic throttle control (ETC), which is also called drive-by-wire. For vehicles that don't offer this system, they have a throttle cable instead that...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...


Related questions

Q: Turn signals not working

Unfortunately, there can be a few different reasons as to why your turn signals are not working on your Ford Ranger. The most common reason to inspect first is the fuse box. You will want to look for any fuses...

Q: Windshield wipers coming on upon startup.

Hello, I have had this issue come up a few times with this vehicle. Most of the time this is caused by a hardware failure in either the steering control module or the integrated power control module. These modules can...

Q: Hazard lights don't work, but the turn signals flash normally

The hazard and turn signals are controlled by the body control module on this vehicle. You will need to have the body control module circuits monitored by using a scanner that can access the body control module data stream to...