LEGAL UPDATE: As of July 1st, 2021, it is no longer illegal to drive with your hazard lights on in the rain. Governor Ron DeSantis just signed a 38-page transportation bill, which included the change tucked within the bill. For years, the Florida Department of Transportation strongly advised drivers NOT to activate their hazard lights will driving in the rain. Now, drivers may use their hazard lights, but only in certain situations. There must be “extremely low visibility” while driving at or above 55mph.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JUNE 7, 2017: It’s a rainy week in Tampa Bay, and summer has only just begun. If you’ve lived in Florida for at least a year, you know to expect rain showers almost daily throughout the summer and fall months. While driving through these storms, it may seem natural to flip on your hazard lights for others to see you, especially if those around you are driving too fast for the conditions. However, turning on your flashers isn’t just dangerous — it’s illegal.
Florida Statute 316.2397(7)(a) is clear: Drivers are prohibited from using flashing lights except as a means of indicating a right or left turn, to change lanes, or to indicate that the vehicle is lawfully stopped or disabled. The exception to this rule is if your vehicle is part of a funeral procession. The reason? It creates confusion for drivers behind you. Others may think you are either stopped in the roadway or driving slower than the flow of traffic. Additionally, flashing lights indicate to emergency personnel that you may be in trouble and need assistance.
While it is illegal to turn on your hazard lights while driving in the rain, remember you must have your headlights and windshield wipers turned on. This rule also applies when conditions are foggy or smoky. While you may be able to see other cars coming in the rain, it’s difficult for them to see you if your headlights are off!
As storms pass through the Bay Area, use extra caution while driving. If conditions make it difficult to see, you may pull over to a safe location off the roadway and turn on your hazard lights. Otherwise, keep them off unless it’s an emergency. It’s the law.