Often it’s not the desire for upgradable things that leads to unusual headlights and lamps. Some professions just need special lights which may then also require special authorization. But it’s surprising what you would actually be allowed to install.
It’s pretty obvious that blue lights are not intended for just any car. Such additional lights called rotating lights, and potentially flashing additional lights of the same color are reserved for vehicles with special rights. It’s a different story when it comes to their amber counterparts. While not everyone is allowed to simply attach these rotating lights to their cars, companies and even private individuals could get special authorization if they can provide a good reason. Tow trucks, breakdown trucks and road construction vehicles are among the most common candidates. Wide agricultural machines such as harvesters are also quite often legally equipped with amber rotating lights.
While amber and blue lights serve the purpose of making the vehicles easier to recognize, blackout lighting focuses on the opposite. Military vehicles have special blackout lights in addition to normal lights. Only a narrow slit of light comes out, though, which doesn’t offer the driver improved visibility but only ensures that the vehicle is recognized – ideally not by the enemy. Vehicles of the German armed forces have a special lighting feature, the “Leitkreuz”, which is a white cross with a weak lamp placed in the center. It’s installed at the rear and pretty much under the vehicle so that it’s difficult to make out by enemy airplanes. With the help of the Leitkreuz, vehicles can drive in convoy at night without any other lights. These and other blackout lights are of course reserved for the armed forces, which in Germany they’re only allowed to use as an alternative to normal lights and not both together. Makes sense really, but it was still put in the rulebook, just in case.
In Germany and many other countries, school buses and ambulances have to have additional indicators at the rear, namely at the top. Because of their characteristic appearance, these parts are also jokingly called Mickey Mouse ears. Especially in buses, they’re often combined with additional rear lights. Both lights differ in one point compared to the lights previously mentioned: everyone is allowed to install them in addition, even in cars. If you like it, that is. A minibus for transporting school children therefore doesn’t need to be downgraded when sold. Naturally the lights need to be certified for the purpose, in other words carry the E symbol.
Construction vehicles, waste collection vehicles, ambulances and tractors have working lights at the rear. They don’t require authorization. These lights are not allowed to work in such a way though that they can be switched on during driving. But there’s no rule without an exception. Waste collection trucks may also use non-glare working lights while moving.Speaking of waste collection, the trucks also have red and white stripes on the edges. Even though they produce no light themselves, they are considered as “lighting equipment”. This reflective foil therefore actually needs to be mentioned in the paperwork. That’s because it allows restricted special rights. Waste trucks marked that way may also stop on the other side of the road against the normal traffic flow.The lamps, headlights and rules we’ve mentioned here mainly apply to Germany. But we’re also interested in the situation in other countries so we look forward to your feedback.