As the summer afternoon storm season winds down, we are still inundated with the occasional strong brief thunderstorm during the rush hour drive home.

This article from Bay News 9 highlights the dangers, as well as the legal issues, of driving in the rain with your hazard lights flashing:

Summertime in Florida brings heavy thunderstorms most afternoons, and that means windshield wipers on the highest setting, headlights on, and in many cases, emergency flashers engaged.

However, if you are a driver who engages your flashers to be seen better by your fellow drivers, you are unknowingly breaking the law.

Elizabeth Bondurant of Auburndale says it is difficult enough to drive through a storm without having to decide if the cars around her are stopped or moving.

“When I see flashers ahead of me I think the person’s either broken down in the middle of the road or possibly pulled over on the side of the road,” she said. “Because when rain is heavy enough you can’t differentiate the lanes when all you see if flashers ahead.”

Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins said engaging your flashers makes you less effective as a driver during the rain.

“The hazard lights, the amber hazard lights are equipped on vehicles are designed to indicate a stopped vehicle that is disabled on the side of the road,” he said. “That’s when those lights should be engaged.”

According to Florida law, it is illegal to drive with the emergency flashers engaged. The reason is simple: other drivers cannot see your turn signals when you are using your flashers.

Gaskins understands the confusion.

“I understand why the drivers are doing it,” he said. “They’re trying to gain more visibility but can actually causes more problems as I mentioned because the drivers aren’t going to be able to use their turn signals and may confuse other drivers as well.”

The Florida Highway Patrol says if conditions are unsafe, driivers should pull to the side or exit the highway.  Once the vehicle is safely on the side of the road, then engage your emergency flashers for greater visibility.

Feel free to click on this link to read the article directly from Bay News 9:  http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/bn9/2013/7/1/traffic_inbox_when_t.html

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