Are Colored Headlights Dangerous and Illegal?

We all like the idea of customizing a vehicle to make it our own. We may add bumper stickers, use seat and steering wheel covers, and add window visors. These are all good car safety customization options. However, changes like custom lighting are not good decisions when safety is concerned. Some lighting modifications, including colored headlights, are dangerous and illegal.

A headlight covered in a veil that gives off a red glow with a blue and pink background.
Headlights | Getty Images

Why do we like the idea of colored lights?

Colored lighting and underglow kits have been a random popular concept for cars. It is one of those trends that comes and goes. Invented in the 80s, it soon faded, only to gain popularity again in the early 2000s with the release of The Fast and the Furious.

It is something we seem to associate with cool cars, mostly those that are sportier in style. We may want underglow on a truck with a lift kit or lowered to ensure it practically rests on the road. Sports cars or cars from any era where colored lighting was popular are also more likely to have light kits installed on them.

Some people choose to further customize their vehicle lighting by changing out their headlights and taillights. It may seem like a fun idea and a fantastic personalization option. However, it is not a good decision.

Why colored headlights are bad

You can go online and buy colored headlights. The ease of access makes many people feel it is just a way to add fun to their vehicle because it takes away the boring white lights that every other car in the world seems to have. The easy access to colored lighting should not fool you. According to AAA and Indiana law, it can lessen your vehicle safety and may break the law since most states allow only white or amber lighting on vehicles. 

All vehicles come with either white or amber-colored headlights because it is the safest form of lighting. It gives you the best night vision and works most effectively when the fog rolls in. We know this sounds strange, considering many vehicles today appear to have blue headlights. However, they are not blue.

According to Autoblog, these blue lights are bright white lights that only appear blue because we are used to seeing lights that are closer to yellow.

Most states also have rules and regulations concerning colored lighting on a vehicle. For instance, you may not be allowed to have flashing, red, or true-blue, visible lights since it may make you appear to be an emergency vehicle.

Some states may not allow you to have lights inside the vehicle, under the vehicle, or any lights that exceed federal law regarding brightness. Therefore, if you desire to change your vehicle’s lighting, you will want to check your state’s laws first.

What happens if you violate vehicle lighting laws?

According to DrivingLaws, the penalty for trying to add cool lights to your vehicle is not anything major. It is a minor traffic offense that can typically mean you are fined around $45.00. However, this doesn’t mean you should rush out to try your luck with custom lighting because the actual cost could be much higher. You will have the cost of the custom lights, installation cost or time, a fine for using illegal lights, and then the cost of removal. Is it worth it?

A better option is to keep your headlight and taillight lenses looking new so that you can see the road ahead clearly. You can reserve your right to customize your vehicle in other safer ways.

Related: What to Do If Your Car Headlights Are Filling With Water