Best Road Flares: Our Top Picks to Keep Your Car Safe
Be safe during roadside emergencies with these top road safety flares
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When your car breaks down on the side of the road, it's important to be visible to passing drivers. A critical item for your emergency roadside kit is road flares. Traditional flares are pyrotechnic devices that burn brightly. Today, most people use battery-operated flares instead. Whatever your preference, check out our reviews and recommendations for the best road flares.
- Best OverallHokena LED Road Flares Emergency LightsSummarySummaryThis kit with a lifetime warranty features three LED road flares, battery replacement tools, a window breaker, and a seat belt cutter. The flares have nine modes and magnets.ProsProsThe flares are very bright, and the mode you select stays in its memory. The flares are impact-resistant, protecting them in case they're run over by a passing vehicleConsConsIt's difficult to see the strobe function or other modes in daylight. They may also move if a large vehicle blows by them.
- Best ValueStonepoint Emergency LED Road Flare KitSummarySummaryThe three LED lights will run for 20 hours in steady mode or 60 hours in flash mode. They are crush-resistant for up to a 6,000-pound vehicle.ProsProsThe flares emit a bright light, are highly visible and have strong magnets that stick well to steel-bodied vehicles. The storage bag is small and compact.ConsCons
There are only two modes: flash and steady. The three AAA alkaline batteries required for each beacon are not included in the kit.
Battery installation may be challenging.
- Honorable Mention4-Pack LED Road Flares with Storage Bag by Garage MonkeySummarySummaryThis set includes four road flares—one more than most sets. They are waterproof and completely weatherproof and come in a storage bag.ProsProsThe LED lights are very bright and feature a variety of display modes. A fold-out hook on the back allows you to hang the flare in various spots.ConsConsBatteries are not included, and you will not be able to install or replace them without a screwdriver. The magnets on the flares are not super strong.
Why Buy Road Flares?
- Caution others. If your vehicle is disabled, a roadside flare kit will alert other drivers and passersby about the situation. Road flares will give you more space to address whatever problem is plaguing your vehicle.
- Create a safety zone. Safety flares for cars can slow traffic and keep it from encroaching on an emergency area. Passing drivers will recognize the significance of the flares and avoid getting close to the scene.
- Protect your family and property. Safety is extremely important when you're broken down on the side of the road. If you want to ensure that your loved ones and vehicle are safe, the use of emergency roadside flares will help.
- Be visible. This is particularly important in severe weather conditions. If you're changing a flat tire, coping with windshield wiper issues, etc., make sure to set up highway flares so other drivers can see you.
- Illuminate an area. If you are stuck on the side of the road with very little light, road safety flares can help. They can provide a light source if you do not have access to a flashlight.
- Create a warning signal. If you come across a road hazard, such as a deer carcass or tree branch, highway safety flares will warn other drivers about the hazard.
Modern technology has led to the proliferation of battery-operated flares. They are much safer for drivers to use and store than their traditional counterpart pyrotechnic flares. Today’s flares typically require the installation of three AAA batteries. They are very convenient to use as long as the batteries are in working order.
An old-fashioned flare, also known as a fusee, will typically burn for 10 to 60 minutes with a bright red light. They are pyrotechnic devices and are also called highway flares, road flares, or ground flares. Modern technology has largely eliminated the need for this type of flare, which can cause injury if improperly handled.
Ling Ming Technology Ltd. has owned Heliar since 2015. The company also distributes an emergency roadside kit and other automotive parts and accessories in addition to LED road flares. It sells products in the United States, Japan, Korea, Europe, and South America. One top product is the Heliar LED Road Flares Emergency Disc Roadside Safety Light Flashing Road Beacon.
Orion Safety Products
Orion Safety Products has been making automotive flares and railway flares (fusees) for nearly a century. Its products are engineered and manufactured in the United States, largely in Indiana and Pennsylvania. A popular item is the Orion Safety Products 3153-08 3-15 Minute Road Flares.
The Hokena name was inspired by the founders' favorite Hawaiian beach, Ho‘okena. The company is solely committed to producing LED Flares for car owners, boat owners, and others who may require them during an emergency. Its top product is the Hokena LED Road Flares Emergency Lights.
- Under $20: You can purchase a decent box of road flares for under $20, particularly if you look for a deal.
- $20-$30: Most good-quality road flares fall into this price range. Typically, they include a storage bag, but they don't always come with batteries.
Battery Installation & Life
It's important to know what kind of batteries the flares require so you have spares for backup. Also, are the batteries easy to replace or do the flares require special tools? Battery life is also a key factor. It's frustrating to have to continually change the batteries, particularly if you forget to do so and get stuck in an emergency.
- Number in the Kit: Most roadside flare kits include three beacons, but there are some that have as many as four or six. Three are adequate for an emergency roadside kit, but the more you have at your disposal, the more protection you can put around your vehicle.
- Storage Bag: Some companies include storage bags with their roadside flares. This keeps the flares safely secured in the trunk or another part of your vehicle. If you purchase a set of flares without a storage bag, then you have to find something else to keep them in, and it may not protect them as well.
- Light Patterns: While steady lights may get a person's attention, a strobe pattern may be even more effective. Many road flares have a variety of modes and light patterns that are hard to ignore. It can be particularly useful in bad weather to have a product that features a variety of lighting patterns.
- Waterproofing: It's not unlikely that you will get stuck on the side of the road in bad weather. Flares with good waterproofing will serve you better when they are placed outside, particularly in the freezing cold or pouring rain. It's critical that the flares can protect the batteries inside to ensure they function properly.
- Build and Design: Flares that are cheaply made are less likely to last very long. If they are too flimsy, they may not hold to the road very well or maintain a charge. Look for road flares that have solid construction so they can withstand bad weather and still function if they are run over by a vehicle.
Best Road Flares Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Road Flares Overall: Hokena LED Road Flares Emergency Lights
Hokena's Roadside Warning Car Safety Flare Kit includes a storage bag and pre-installed AAA batteries in its LED safety lights. The kit also features battery replacement tools, a 2-in-1 glass window breaker, and a seat belt cutter. The flares feature earth magnets so they can be secured to the side of your truck or RV. There is a lifetime warranty for the flares.
The lights are very bright, and the various lighting modes are useful in an emergency. The mode you used last stays in its memory in case you want to use the same mode again. The orange plastic material on the flares is slightly soft and rubberized, making them impact-resistant in the event they're run over by a passing car or emergency vehicle. The storage case is good in quality and has space for nine extra batteries inside.
One downside is it's difficult to see the strobe function or other modes in daylight. The lights aren’t bright enough to be seen in direct sunlight from a distance. The flares may also move if a large vehicle blows by them.
Best Value Road Flares: Stonepoint Emergency LED Road Flare Kit
This kit includes three LED emergency beacons and a bag for storing them. The lights will run for 20 hours in steady mode or 60 hours in flash mode. They are small, lightweight, and crush-resistant for up to a 6,000-pound vehicle.
The flares are easy to use, emit a bright light, and are highly visible from a good distance. Rechargeable batteries will also work in the beacons. For storage, the included bag is small and compact. The magnets on the flares are strong and stick well to steel-bodied vehicles.
There are only two modes: flash and steady. The three AAA alkaline batteries required for each beacon are not included in the kit, so battery installation and removal may be challenging. The lights may also accidentally turn on while they are in the pouch, killing the battery life.
Best Road Flares Honorable Mention: 4-Pack LED Road Flares with Storage Bag by Garage Monkey
This is one of the few sets that comes with four flares instead of just three. The flares have a waterproof seal that makes the battery compartment close tightly so the flares are completely weatherproof.
The bright red/orange LED lights do not get hot and are very bright. They feature a variety of light display modes for maximum attention. One mode allows you to use it as a flashlight, and another uses the universal distress code (S-O-S) signal. A fold-out hook on the back allows you to hang the flare if you don't want to place it on the ground.
Batteries are not included with the flares, and you will not be able to install or replace them without a screwdriver. The lights "spin" in a counterclockwise direction that may be visually disruptive to passing drivers as well. Finally, the flares tend to fall off due to weak magnets.
Tips & Advice for Road Flares
- Set the flares up at a reasonable distance from your vehicle. This gives motorists a chance to react to them. If they're too close to your car, they won't work as effectively.
- Be aware of your surroundings when you set up a road flare. Ensure that you are safely away from passing vehicles. Drivers may not see you when you get out of your car.
- Most flares require three AAA batteries, and you should check them and replace them every few years even if you don't use the flares. Store the batteries separately from the flares to reduce corrosion and protect the flares.
- Brighter LED flares will go through batteries more quickly. Take that into consideration when choosing which type of road flare you want to include in your emergency roadside kit.
- Pyrotechnic road flares can be dangerous if you don't know how to properly store or use them. LEDs are a safer alternative and easier to set up.
- Sometimes the striker fails to start the fuse on a traditional road flare. You can solve this problem by using a lighter, so make sure you have one with your emergency roadside kit.
- Keep the flares in a dry storage space, such as a plastic tote. Traditional fusee flares may break down if they get wet or damp, which can be messy, and prevent them from working.
Q: How many road flares are necessary, and where should they be placed?
A: Three flares should suffice. To warn traffic that your vehicle is parked on the side of an interstate highway, place them at 10 feet, 100 feet, and 200 feet from your car. If you're on a two-lane, undivided road, put one 100 feet in front of your vehicle and two 10 feet and 100 feet behind it.
Q: Do flares make an orange flash?
A: It depends on the product. Many LEDs are orange or amber. A few feature several different lighting modes, some of which may also include a white LED flashlight.
Q: Can you mount the flares on top of a car?
A: Some products include magnets on the bottom of the flares so they can be affixed to a vehicle's steel bumper or roof. They can also be attached to a guardrail.
Q: Do pyrotechnic road flares expire?
A: Pyrotechnic road flares will eventually expire. Many have a shelf life of fewer than four years. They may work after the expiration date but could misfire.
Our top pick for the best road flare is the Hokena LED Road Flares Emergency Lights. They are very bright/durable and can withstand vehicle impact.
For a less pricey alternative, consider the Stonepoint Emergency LED Road Flare Kit.
Have experience with road flares? Let us know about your preferences in the comments below.