Driving with hazard lights might seem safe, but it’s illegal: Roadshow

Q: I believe you may be incorrect in saying that using your hazard lights while driving is illegal. Having just had to take a test to renew my driver’s license, I recently studied the California Driver’s Handbook. On page 67 it says to turn on your emergency flashers to warn other drivers about a traffic break. Isn’t that the same as hazard lights?

Jo Anna Watt

A: I checked that section of the handbook, too, and it refers to use of hazard lights when you are in a law enforcement traffic break, but does not address hazard lights in other driving situations.

Q: Using hazard lights while driving can be legal in some situations. See CVC 25251 for one example. I think being tailgated on a curvy road counts as a hazard on the roadway.

Michael Graff

A: This covers use of warning lights while passing by an accident or hazard on the roadway.

Q: Tailgating is also illegal and I’ve found that turning on the hazard blinker gets tailgaters to back off every time. When they do, I turn off the blinker. If they close in again, the blinker goes on again. It’s far less dangerous than brake-tapping.

Gwynne Willison

A: And…

Q: Your statement that using hazard lights while driving is illegal has to have exceptions. Signage while climbing steep grades often directs slow vehicles (trucks), to use their flashers (hazard lights). Using flashers to warn others that you are driving slower than normal makes a lot of sense, and would be stupid to outlaw.

Craig Parker, San Jose

A: I ran the question past Gary-the-retired-CHP-officer. He replied, “It is illegal to drive with your hazard lights flashing.” Maintain a safe speed and if a driver is backing up traffic, they may want to use a turnout to let traffic pass. “If on a two-lane road, a driver is required by law to take a turnout, if they have 5 or more cars behind them,” he said. That law is primarily aimed at slow trucks, but would also apply in this situation.

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
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