Hazard warning lights are used to warn other drivers of your presence or to warn them of danger ahead. You shouldn’t have to use your hazard warning very often, but it’s important that you know when you should and that you use them correctly. This is something that's likely to come up in the multiple choice section of your driving theory test.
What are hazard warning lights?
As you'll discover in your driving lessons, your hazard warning lights are basically your orange indicator lights both flashing at the same time, indicating a warning to other drivers. The button to turn on your hazard warning lights can be found on your dashboard, and will be a red triangle which flashes when they’re on.
If you breakdown
Hazard warning lights are generally used in the event of a breakdown. If you feel your car starting to lose power whilst driving, put your hazards on to warn other drivers that you may be about to slow down or stop suddenly. This will allow other drivers to keep their distance and avoid a collision.
If your car breaks down on the road, you need to put your hazard warning lights on to warn other drivers that you’re posing a potential hazard. You should make sure you switch them on even if it’s daylight, and also when on the hard shoulder of a dual carriageway or motorway.
Warning of a potential hazard
You might also spot other drivers using their hazard lights to warn other drivers of a potential hazard in the road ahead. If, for example, traffic suddenly starts to slow down on a dual carriageway or motorway, drivers might put their hazards on to warn the vehicles behind them to slow down. The car behind them will then do the same, and drivers will know to slow down in order to avoid a collision.
When NOT to use your hazards
Putting your hazard lights on doesn’t give you an excuse to park wherever you want, and a traffic warden will still give you a ticket whether you have them on or off. You might, however, want to put your hazards on if you need to stop, temporarily causing an obstruction.
You might also see people using their hazard warning lights to thank drivers behind them. It’s best not to do this, as it can send confusing signals to drivers around you.