If you've ever been overseas — in my case, to the UK — you'll be shocked at the number of times people activate their hazards while driving their car. Some people call them flashers or hazard lights, but you know which ones I mean: The ones that trigger all the turn signals at once, flashing them to alert oncoming traffic to a "hazard" of some sort up ahead.

In England, for example, they flash their hazards to say thanks to drivers for letting them in front of them. Or during foggy conditions. Or sometimes just while in traffic, with no actual adverse conditions at all. It's like a disco on the motorways over there sometimes.

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Here in the United States, we turn them on if you're pulled off the highway to change a tire. You sometimes — maybe, hypothetically — turn them on if you're parked in front of a Colorado King Soopers while someone runs in to grab something really quick, you know, as if to say "I'm only here for a few seconds, I'm not technically PARKED here." Which is not an allowed usage, by the way.

Some people turn them on in the rain while driving for absolutely no reason whatsoever. This is also common practice overseas. I guess the logic here is that if you have flashing lights during poor visibility, it'll make it easier to see drivers who might be coming up behind you too quickly.

But it's wrong. You should NEVER activate your hazard lights while driving in the rain. In fact, unless you're driving under 25 MPH, it's technically illegal.

Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-215(7) specifically addresses when you should and when you should not use your hazards:

(7) Any vehicle may be equipped with lamps that may be used for the purpose of warning the operators of other vehicles of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking, or passing and, when so equipped and when the vehicle is not in motion or is being operated at a speed of twenty-five miles per hour or less and at no other time, may display such warning in addition to any other warning signals required by this article. The lamps used to display such warning to the front must be mounted at the same level and as widely spaced laterally as practicable and display simultaneously flashing white or amber lights, or any shade of color between white and amber. The lamps used to display the warning to the rear must be mounted at the same level and as widely spaced laterally as practicable and, except as provided in section 42-12-204, show simultaneously flashing amber or red lights, or any shade of color between amber and red. These warning lights must be visible from a distance of not less than five hundred feet under normal atmospheric conditions at night.

Moreover, the Colorado State Patrol says that too frequently using hazard lights while driving nullifies their intended effect, which is to alert other drivers that something is out of the ordinary and to proceed with caution. If people just randomly start driving with them on, we won't notice them or pay extra caution to them.

Additionally, they can be distracting to other drivers — especially in adverse driving conditions — making it more difficult to see brake lights activated in front of you or mistaking them for turn signals.

So — moral of the story? If your vehicle is disabled on the side of the road, or you are limited to speeds under 25 MPH for some reason, causing a safety hazard to other drivers, that is the only time you should use them.

During rainstorms, windshield wipers are good, but hazard lights are bad. Just. Don't. Do. It.

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