The Red Light District
Does the Color of Flashers (Indicators) Really Matter?
And What About Rear, High-Intensity Red Fog Lights?
By: Eddie Wren
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Many American-made vehicles have red rear indicators and yellow front parking lights, but do
these colors enhance safety, or hinder it?
In order that we can all consider this question wisely, we are asking you to think about driving in heavy, commuter traffic, in heavy rain or thick fog, in the half light of dawn or dusk.
Think about being in high volume traffic on a busy, urban road with traffic signals, with perhaps three or four lanes for the direction you are heading, and apart from the low light and bad visibility, the road is very wet. You are therefore facing a sea of red lights: the traffic signals, plus tail lights and stop/brake lights. And indicators?
Apart from saving the auto makers a few cents per vehicle by having just red lights at the rear, what possible benefit can there be from having indicator lights ("flashers") the same color as rear lights and brake lights? The answer is: None!
If the flasher/indicator lights are yellow/orange/amber (call them whichever you prefer), instead of red, they stand out strongly instead of the opposite -- blending in.
There can be no good argument for not having maximum conspicuity for flashers/indicators. The day that red rear flashers are no longer made will be a good day.
A similar argument can be made in respect of the front lights of many American cars.
What is the benefit of having yellow/orange/amber parking lights (i.e. side lights) or even Daytime Running Lights (DRLs)?
Is it not better to have only white lights for the parking lights and, of course, the headlights, and keep the prominence of the yellow/orange/amber solely for the flashers/indicators?
It should go without saying that indicators need to be as conspicuous as possible, so why should that effect be muted in any way whatsoever? The fact that most drivers don't use them correctly is a separate issue addressed elsewhere on this website.
Rear Fog Lights
In some if not all American states, it is illegal to have two, high-intensity rear red fog lights.
Why? Because U.S. legislators fear that such lights, being very bright, could be mistaken for brake lights.... But so what?