Rainy season reminder: Florida motorists can use hazard lights in severe weather

Mark H. Bickel
Fort Myers News-Press

The rain, the rain — it just won't go away.

After weeks and months without a significant amount of rainfall, many areas in Southwest Florida have been drenched from a series of severe afternoon rainstorms that returned late last week.

More than two inches of rain have been recorded at Page Field in Fort Myers and the Naples Airport since May 1.

It appears the 2022 rainy season is officially underway, and that could lead to an important question motorists might be asking: "Can I use my hazard lights while driving during a rainstorm?"

The answer is yes, but only in certain conditions.

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We are approaching the one-year anniversary  (July 1, 2021) when it became legal for drivers in the Sunshine State to press that triangle button in their vehicle and activate the flashing lights when conditions create "extreme low visibility" while they are on roads with speed limits at or above 55 mph. Those weather conditions also include heavy rain, fog, or smoke.

Some drivers decide to attempt going through flood waters on the east end of High Street Thursday morning regardless of warnings by Jackson Police cruisers with flashing lights. Thunderstorms are expected to continue throughout the morning with rain tappering off this evening. Thursday, May 9, 2019

Before July 1, 2021, if a Florida driver had their hazard lights on – even during a downpour – they were driving illegally. 

Under the previous law, hazard lights were only meant for when your car had broken down or stopped on the side of the road.

In fact, before the new law went into effect,  the only time the flashing lights could be used while driving your vehicle was if you were in a funeral procession. It would then be a signal to other drivers not to drive in between or interfere with the procession. 

Why did officials have a law making it illegal?

They pointed to operating a vehicle with hazard lights could become a hazard to other drivers who might have believed you were stopped or stalled on the road. Also, it  might have made it difficult for other driver’s to recognize whether the motorist was tapping on their brakes or using a turn signal.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recommends that if driving in rain is too dangerous, pull off the road. Do not activate hazard lights while still traveling.

Did you know?

This is an Important reminder from  AAA regarding wet roads and the use of cruise control:

Myth: Cruise control can be used all the time regardless of driving weather.

Fact: Using cruise control when driving in the rain, snow, hail, sleet or ice, slippery roads can affect the system's ability to maintain a constant vehicle speed. On wet roads, cruise control set at too fast a speed could cause the vehicle to hydroplane when it encounters standing water. On very low-traction surfaces such as ice and snow, cruise control operation can result in a skid or spin. Drive safe and avoid using cruise control on slippery roads.