Why headlights are yellow

Are yellow headlights actually allowed on the car?

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In Germany headlights are only allowed to shine white. There is a reason for that. © Tobias Hase

Yellow instead of white: not all cars on German roads shine in the same color. Who is allowed to do what ?, you ask yourself as a driver. The Tüv Nord clears up.

Sometimes cars with yellowish headlights can be seen in traffic. As a rule, however, these are not cars registered in Germany, explains Tüv Nord.

In this country, according to Paragraph 50, Paragraph 1 of the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations (StVZO), only white lights for high and low beam have always been used.

This rule does not apply to headlights that are not used to illuminate the road. For example, according to the StVZO, vehicles may be equipped with two fog lights for “white or light yellow light” (Paragraph 52, Paragraph 1). The yellowish vehicle lighting is the «fog light yellow» or «selective yellow», the property of which is defined in standards in Europe and the USA.

In rain, snowfall or fog, yellow light reduces the glare, but at the same time distorts the colors perceived by the driver. Yellow headlights, which used to be common in some neighboring European countries, are therefore no longer permitted for new vehicles according to EU regulations. Older vehicles can, however, continue to use yellow lighting that has already been installed.

New light technology in the car too bright?

Although incandescent lamps still light up in many cars, a lot has happened in the field of lighting technology for cars in recent years. After xenon headlights, lasers, LEDs and OLEDs are taking over the front.

LED headlights annoy drivers at night, according to a survey. Even the luminosity of new LED taillights is a thorn in the side of many motorists. Many drivers feel blinded by the light. The ADAC then tested the glare effect of LED taillights together with the Light Technology Institute (LTI) in Karlsruhe. The result is surprising.

dpa / tmn