Legalese — Using your Hazards in the Rain

I had to drive to Savannah not too long ago, and it began to rain.  I mean rain, the kind of blinding rain where everything outside the car is grey and slippery.  The car in front of me put on its hazard lights.  I’ve seen this before – heck, I’ve even done this before.  What does the law say about it?

In Georgia, the law doesn’t say anything about it.  Hazard lights, just so we’re all clear about it, turn on all four turn signals, left-right-front-back, at the same time, so they all flash.  They are a feature on cars that is designed to be used when you are in an emergency situation, like pulled over on the side of the road, so that people can see where you are, and know you are there, and not run into you.  The original intent of hazard lights was/is not to be driving with them on.  Yet people often do when it is hard-core raining.

In several states, such as California, Idaho, Alaska, Arizona, and Colorado, you can’t drive with your hazard lights on except under very limited circumstances.  In Georgia, there are no official rules, though there are debates as to whether or not it is a good idea. 

Personally, I like when the person in front of me has their hazard lights on during highway driving in heavy rain.  I find that it is easier to see exactly where they are and how far away from me they have gotten.  This is, however, contrary to the advice of most experts, who will tell you that driving with your hazard lights on will make it difficult for other drivers.  Apparently the hazards make it difficult to tell which side of the road you are on or which lane you are in.  I suppose this is true on surface or side streets, in which case you should just pull over until the rain dies down.  Pulling over isn’t always an option in heavy rain on the interstate, which is always where I seem to be when the skies open up. 

This is a legal column, however, not an advice column, and it is Georgia-specific, since that is the only state I am qualified to give answers about.  So: is it legal to drive with your hazards on in the rain in Georgia?  Yes.  Should you?  That’s a question for someone else.

Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice. It is being offered for informational purposes only.

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