In my opinion there is one important feature on automobiles and trucks that is overlooked, and rarely used. This feature has saved me from an accident on numerus occasions. If you commute 152, or commute solely in the Central Valley, I highly recommend using this feature. 

This rarely used feature is the hazard lights. Think about it, hazard lights are used on that slim occasion you are sidelined next to a road, or freeway. It’s serves as a symbol of caution, stating, “I hope you see my vehicle is disabled.”

As a commuter, hazards can be used for so much more. Let’s discuss additional possible uses for this safety feature. I’ll start by saying, I feel it’s important to point out one should know the hazard button’s location and be able to engage your hazard lights without effort. To be more specific on this point, one should be able to engage your hazard lights within seconds and with the familiarity of auto-pilot. Even more, have the ability to press the hazard button without looking. This will allow you to keep your eyes on the road while accessing how the scene is playing out in front of you.

There have been several times over the years when traffic appears smooth. Then out of nowhere, just beyond a clear line of view, traffic has dramatically slowed or has come to a complete stop. My use of hazards has saved a rear end collision on countless occasions. Simply using brake lights alone in these scenarios doesn’t fully describe the level of caution in front of your vehicle. A simple misjudgment could mean a multi-car collision.

Driving in dense Tule fog is another usage for hazard lights. There are times visibility is 10 feet or less. For some reason there will always be a few cars driving faster than the conditions allow. Safely driving at a reduced speed in extreme fog conditions with hazards engaged, could also avert a rear end collision. Unfortunately, I have witness several avoidable collisions in fog. Usually a driver, driving way too fast, rear-ends the car in front of them in the slow lane. In the same situation, I have also witnessed cross-highway drivers being hit. Yellow light penetrates fog better that red light. White light is actually dangerous is some cases, as white light reflects back at you in the fog.

The final usage of hazard lights can be a big tricky. One has to read the situation, keep your eye on the road, and glance in your rear view mirror. You may have guessed this involves the car behind you driving too close. If the person behind you looks as if this is how they normally drive, I suggest letting them pass. No need to escalate into something avoidable. However, if you clearly recognize the driver following too close is simply displaying a lapse in judgement, press your hazards on and off. This is not done not as an exclamation statement. This activation of hazards gets their attention. Hope this helps.

Safe travels my commuting friends.

Rob Robinson