I was driving on the freeway tonight, and suddenly when I looked in the rear-view I felt semi-blinded by the lights of the car behind me. My first reaction was, “does this asshole have his high beams on?” But I couldn’t really be sure. I watched the rear-view more intently for the next few minutes and what I did notice was that his headlights were definitely much whiter than most of the other cars behind me, which mostly had a yellowish hue to them.
Then I started looking at the lights of the oncoming traffic and realized that maybe about 1 car in 20 has distinctly whiter lights than the rest. I don’t think they are driving with their high beams on, but rather they just have white main lamps. How I never noticed this before in all my years of driving is amazing. I mean, I’m sure I did notice somewhat subconsciously but just never really thought about it before.
So my first question is why would they manufacture a minority of cars with these harsh/annoying white lights in the first place? And secondly, when it comes to high beams, are they more likely to be white even when the main lights are yellow? Do white lights seem brighter than yellow ones even if they’re actually not? Example 1* - in this one the car clearly has yellow main lamps and white high beams. Example 2 - but in this one it seems like both sets of lights are white in hue. Example 3 - I can’t tell, it seems like both might be yellow but they just blend together, which seems to be how they look much more commonly than the first two examples where the lens flares make it easy to distinguish the two sets of beams.
*Fun footnote, while Googling for images of high beams I discovered a new, alternative definition for the term high beams that I didn’t know before. If you don’t know it already, I recommend not Googling it while at work.