Hazard Lights On When it Rains – Is That Even Legal in Louisiana?
Motorists across much of Louisiana from Lake Charles to Shreveport and Ruston down to Lafayette will likely experience the joy of driving in rainstorms at some point during the next 24 to 48 hours. The Storm Prediction Center has placed a large portion of the state at risk for severe storms with potential heavy downpours beginning later this morning and through the early morning hours of Friday.
Many of you are aware that there are laws on the books in Louisiana that direct motorists along the state's roadways to turn on their headlights any time they are using their vehicle's windshield wipers. The headlights aren't really illuminated for the driver's benefit. They increase the vehicle's visibility to other drivers during times of inclement weather. That's the reason that law is on the books.
But, I am sure you have also seen during times of very heavy downpours motorists who not only turn their vehicle's headlights on but they illuminate the vehicle's emergency flasher lights. This brings up a very good question. Are you really supposed to be driving with your hazard lights flashing?
Perhaps you have seen someone driving with their "flashers" on during the day. Perhaps they are running late for an important meeting or maybe a person in their vehicle is suffering a medical emergency of some kind. What about that? Would that scenario make driving with your hazard lights on acceptable?
Is It Legal to Drive with Your Hazard Lights Flashing During a Rainstorm in Louisiana?
According to the Louisiana State Legislature, the short answer to that query is "No". No, you're not supposed to "be in motion" with your hazard lights flashing at all. So, that takes care of the second part of our question about driving "during a medical emergency" too.
The statute concerning the use of hazard lights reads like this.
Flashing lights are prohibited except on authorized emergency vehicles, school buses, or on any vehicle as a means of indicating a right or left turn, or the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring unusual care in approaching, overtaking, or passing.
Granted, that passage doesn't specifically address driving in the rain. But this video from Louisiana State Police certainly answers the question.
Now if the point of turning on your headlights when it rains is visibility it would seem to make sense that adding "flashing lights" would make that visibility even better, right? That's actually wrong. The flashers and their flashing lights can often confuse other motorists who might interpret the flashing light as a turn signal or brake light.
It can also make judging the distance between vehicles more difficult as well. The bottom line is this. Use your hazards if your car is disabled in the roadway or on the shoulder. Do not use your flashers when the vehicle is in motion, even if it's in motion during a driving rainstorm. It is against the law.
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Gallery Credit: Bruce Mikells