Car hazard warning lights explained

What are Hazard Warning Lights

Hazard warning lights, or ’emergency flashers’ are activated by pressing the button on your dashboard which has the symbol of a red triangle. Once pressed, all four of your car’s indicator lights will flash simultaneously. To let you know that your hazard warning lights are activated, both directional indicator warning lights flash on your dashboard.

This video explains how to turn on your hazard warning lights and how you’ll know when they are activated.

Where are the Hazard Warning Lights

Because hazard warning lights are often used in an emergency situation, the hazard warning lights button in your car is usually located in a prominent, easy to find position on the dashboard.

The symbol on your hazard warning lights button is the same in all cars and is represented by a red triangle. Unlike certain other lights, hazard warning lights can be activated without the engine running or without the ignition having to be switched on.

When to Use Hazard Warning Lights

You should use your hazard warning lights in the following situations:

  • When your vehicle is stationary and is causing a hazard to other road users. For example, this may be due to your car breaking down, or where you need to stop due to an obstruction in the road such as a road traffic accident or an object that’s fallen onto the road.
  • When your vehicle is being towed only on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway and only if you need to warn other drivers of an obstruction in the road ahead.

When NOT to Use Hazard Warning Lights

Hazard warning lights must not be used in the following situations:

  • As an excuse for hazardous or illegal parking.
  • To warn other drivers of a police presence.
  • When being towed, unless on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway and you need to warn drivers behind you of a hazard ahead. Only use the hazard lights long enough for other drivers to observe your warning, then switch them off.

Inappropriate use of the hazard warning lights can be confusing and potentially dangerous for other road users. If part of your vehicle is obstruction from view, a driver may only see one light flashing and consider it as a turn signal.

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