27 October 2010

Hazard lights in the rain rant

One of the drivers in front me this morning had his hazard lights on the entire way down MD-295.  It was dark (~5:30AM) and raining, and pretty hard at times.

You might think that putting your hazard lights ("four way flashers") on while driving in the rain is a good idea, so that other drivers see you.  But it's a bad idea, and in some places like Florida, it's illegal.  The flashing lights reflect everywhere.  It's a distraction to other drivers and makes it more dangerous, not less.  See for example, here.

I can assure you that from my perspective, it was hugely distracting, taking my attention away from the other vehicles around me.  The reflections were particularly annoying, too.

Hazard lights are designed to warn other drivers that your vehicle is a hazard; typically this is when you've had to pull off the road, perhaps in conditions of poor visibility.  I can even understand using your hazards when your vehicle is traveling exceptionally slow as compared to other traffic (and in that case, you should consider why you have to be driving so slow; if you're truly a hazard you shouldn't be driving).  However, they are not designed to signal, "hey this is me," when everyone else is driving the same speed as you.

Edited: In reference to the comment about using headlights when it's raining, according to Maryland law § 22-201.2. (Use of headlights or fog lights when windshield wipers are operated):
Notwithstanding any other provision of this subtitle, if a driver of a vehicle on a highway operates the vehicle's windshield wipers for a continuous period of time because of impaired visibility resulting from unfavorable atmospheric conditions, the driver shall light the vehicle's headlamps or fog lights. 
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