Vehicle headlights must be yellow or amber, not blue

Glare challenges some drivers at night more than others. Middle-aged and older drivers seem to be more sensitive to glare than younger drivers because its takes longer for their eyes to adjust to changing light levels.

One of the biggest complaints is trying to focus on blue headlights. Drivers who have less visibility at night say those blue headlights are difficult and uncomfortable.

Most vehicles have standard headlights that emit a yellowish light. Yet, other vehicles have blue headlights and are available in three types: LED, Xenon and super blue halogen. These appear blue but emit a bright white light.

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights – introduced in Europe in the mid-1990s — don’t have filaments, according to the definition of headlights. Instead, they use a high voltage electrical arc to ionize xenon gas and make it glow. HID lights emit twice the light of halogen headlamps, but also produce a blue-white light. Other headlights look yellow by comparison.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said that many motorists who face HID lights reported being blinded by the amount of light and blue-white quality. A survey also revealed that drivers whose cars were equipped with HID headlights “swear by them while drivers swear at them.” These drivers also reported receiving high beam flashes from other drivers.

Every state has specific laws governing the legal color of headlights, as well as when they should be used. Most states mandate that white, yellow and amber are the only allowable colors for lights on the front of a vehicle. The rules are just as strict for taillights, brake lights, and turn signals.

Tennessee is no exception. A new law that went into effect January 1 revises provisions governing lights on vehicles as described in TCA Title 55, Chapter and Title 55, Chapter 9 Part 4. The revision establishes that headlights must be either yellow or amber. While most standard passenger vehicles will comply with this law, drivers can’t modify the headlights to any other color.

The AAA Foundation offers these suggestions for safer night driving: When oncoming vehicles shine light directly into your eyes, look down and to the right. Turn your gaze to the white line on the right side of the road, or to where pavement meets shoulder, until the vehicle goes by. Clean the windshield regularly. Those streaks, smudges and road grime can refract light and make it more difficult to see. And don’t forget to clean the inside of the windshield to remove the build-up.

Wanda Southerland
Contributor to The News