Good evening, Sir, we’re just doing a spot check. Your headlights are a bit yellow, aren’t they?” It was like my own personal Groundhog Day on the A7 between Kiel and Hamburg. The 1993 Audi V8 didn’t have very good lights ex works. A friend brought me H4 lamps with yellow covers from France; they weren’t any better but they looked great. The police didn’t really share my opinion and pulled me over once a year. That didn’t stop me from moving the lamps from one car to the next. I liked them. Until a policeman asked me: “Hang on, didn’t I pull you over last year because of these lamps?” Oops. That’s when I started thinking about it.

Yes, those deep yellow lamps do look great. Depends on your taste of course, but yellow is my favorite color. How nice it was back then when French cars would come your way at night and would catch your attention not only because of their extravagant design but also because of their cheerful yellow lights. But even in France, the motherland of yellow lights, they’ve been prohibited for quite some time now. And that although the accessory industry hailed all their advantages, including the fact that yellow wouldn’t be deflected as much in fog by the small droplets as normal white, so it would penetrate thick fog more easily. As a former physics student, I could also throw in the phrase “long-wave radiation”, which apparently results in reduced glare for oncoming traffic. At night yellow light is supposed to provide much greater contrast. Does anyone remember yellow night driving glasses? Yellow is claimed to be less tiring. And now?


There’s no need to discuss it because yellow lights are prohibited in Germany – plain and simple. There aren’t any really yellow lamps which have official approval marks. Whenever this subject comes up, my technology colleague Fritz always has to laugh at first but it’s not long before he goes into a rant. In theory, yellow lamps may well have a few advantages at night and in fog – but in practice these few percentage points are well and truly nullified by the fact that the light output from these lamps is significantly lower; no matter whether the glass body has been painted yellow or a small yellow glass bulb has been placed on top. A lot of light “gets stuck” in this coloring, and that’s then missing from the road. So the great contrast at night will be neutralized by the fact that we have to concentrate more because we simply see less. And in fog you don’t see anything anyway. Weak yellow lights are not better – seriously.

For those who can’t keep their hands off yellow lights completely, there are Osram Bilux H4 all-season lamps which have a teeny-weeny yellow tinge. For everyone who finds white lights too white. Anything else is illegal in Germany and also wouldn’t make sense. So would I still fit these lamps? Well I can’t entirely rule it out … no wait, what am I thinking – no, of course I wouldn’t. It’s prohibited, I know that. And even if it looks great, it doesn’t make sense and is silly. So once again, it’s a definite no. Just ask Fritz.

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