If you have driven in Florida, you have driven in a heavy rainstorm. These seem to come out of nowhere, with little warning and can reduce unlimited visibility to zero visibility in a matter of seconds. What should you do?
Good Safety Measure Or More Of A Hazard?
Florida drivers will be allowed to use hazard lights on roads with speed limits at or above 55 mph when the conditions create “extremely low visibility.”
The law rebuts years of messaging by state traffic officials, who have been telling drivers on social media, on highway signs, and in news stories not to use those lights in the rain.
The experts all say that you should turn your lights on, slow down and try and pull over safely in such conditions. This is often not as easy as it seems, many people turn on the emergency or hazard flashers while continuing to drive in such conditions. Whether this is safe or dangerous is a matter of dispute. In fact, in many states, it is illegal to do this.
Will This Cause Confusion for Other Drivers?
Public safety officials stressed that hazard lights are for vehicles that are stopped or disabled on the roadway or the shoulder. They are a sign for emergency services or that the driver needs assistance. According to these officials, hazard lights can reduce visibility, making other drivers think you are stopped or stalled. They make it difficult to see if motorists are tapping on the brakes and they don’t allow you to use your turn signals.
For years it has been illegal in Florida to drive with flashers unless you were in a funeral procession. In fact, since 2018 police in Florida have issued almost 500 citations for this practice. As the Florida DOT tweeted “If driving in rain is too dangerous, pull off the road. DO NOT activate hazard lights while still traveling”.
However, as in many other circumstances, Florida was an outlier. Only 10 states prohibit using hazard lights while driving, according to the AAA. This law will be changed effective July 1, 2021. The new law will allow Florida drivers to use hazard lights on roads with speed limits at or above 55 mph when the conditions create “extremely low visibility”. This would seem to include rainy or foggy conditions that we all experience on a regular basis.
We think this law simply reflects the most common driving practices in a state like Florida, where such conditions are common. In fact, the lawmaker who introduced the change confirmed this. He admitted that he has used his flashers to avoid getting rear-ended in dangerous conditions. He also admitted surprise that the change in the law attracted very little opposition or even attention.
Did You Know That for Years It Was Illegal to Drive with Your Hazard Lights on During the Rain?
We must admit that we were not aware that driving with flashers was illegal. It seems counterintuitive that this would make driving more dangerous. As usual, be careful when driving in such hazardous conditions, and if they are so extreme simply pull over until the conditions improve. While this can be very aggravating, it can be better than the alternative.
States that permit the use of flashers while driving include Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming.
The remaining states have exceptions to the rules, allowing hazard lights only in certain circumstances.
REMINDER – Florida law requires motorists to turn on their headlights any time it rains. The aim is to make it easier for others to see you when visibility is poor
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.
If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.