Graphic helps sort out hazard flasher driving laws

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

A short while back we posted a story, “Drive with your hazard flashers on?” pointing to a situation many RVers face: When headed up (or down) a steep grade, and traveling significantly below traffic speed, should you flip on your hazard flashers?


In an opening response to that question we said, “Let’s examine the legality issue, first. A survey of traffic laws from around the country reveals that 20 states generally allow use of hazard lights while driving – we say ‘generally’ as a few say it’s OK ‘unless otherwise posted.’ Ten states flat-out rule using hazard lights while moving as illegal under any circumstances, and the other 20 make it illegal with the exception of special circumstances. And here’s where those circumstances could have a major impact on RVers. Those circumstances generally boil down to a loose phrase: ‘except to indicate a traffic hazard.'”

Graphic helps sort out hazard flasher driving laws
Click for larger image. Graphic by Jeff Myers.

We included with the story a complete, state-by-state boil-down of applicable hazard flasher law. And that’s probably great, if you travel in a few states, or have a photographic memory. Leave it to one of our sharp readers to come up with an even better idea. Here’s a kudos to Jeff Myers who wrote, “I created [a] map by filling in the colors on a blank map based on the information drawn from the AAA Digest of Motor Laws that was cited in the article you posted. I thought the info in the article was useful, but also thought that a one-page map summarizing the info would be more useful as a travel tool to keep with my atlas in my RV. The Legend/Key is generally based on the following paragraph in your original article.”

Jeff’s colorful graphic is just what the RVing public needs, and we’re happy to include it. If you click on the small graphic in this piece, you’ll get a much larger image of the same graphic that you may want to print out and carry with you in your RV as you travel.


Here’s Jeff’s explanation of the color coding (which is noted more briefly on the graphic):

“GREEN – States shaded Green are states where the use of hazard lights while driving IS PERMITTED. (In some states, this is qualified as ‘unless otherwise posted.’)

“RED – States shaded Red are states where the use of hazard lights while driving IS NOT PERMITTED. (In some states, this is qualified as ‘except in an emergency situation.’ The focus of your original article was on situations where RVs were traveling slowly during steep climbs, which I did not consider to be emergencies, as noted in the footnote I included on the graphic.)

“YELLOW – States shaded in Yellow are states where use of hazard lights is not allowed, EXCEPT TO INDICATE A TRAFFIC HAZARD. In two cases (Colorado and Oklahoma), the language regarding traffic hazard is such (less than 25 mph in Colorado, and a traffic hazard that is also an emergency situation in Oklahoma) that including these with the Red states seemed appropriate.”

Thanks again, Jeff, for sharing this useful map/tool.

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Graybyrd

I can think of nothing more fun than driving back across state for a traffic court appearance to explain to a magistrate why I considered a situation to fit within the definition of a “traffic hazard” in which the ticketing officer chose not to agree and ticketed me for “driving with flashers.” Even if I win, I lose… travel time to court, time for court appearance, and travel expenses. And if the magistrate decides to side with the officer, then I’m out all that, plus the fine, plus court costs.

MikeJ

I have lived in Alaska all my life and I have never heard of an instance where such a law was enforced. I am always happy to see flashers on a slow moving vehicle going UP or DOWN a steep incline. I do so myself and have never been stopped.
Some laws are just plain dumb. A slow moving vehicle on a 70mph Hwy is definitely a hazard.

impavid

Jeff, thanks for doing up the map. It will be a big help.

Steven Scheinin

I think coloring Maryland red is incorrect as their on signs on Interstate 70 that says “use flashers if speed below 40 MPH”.