Why Do Cops Have Red Interior Lights? The Main Reasons

Why do cops have red interior lights is because red light is less sensitive to the eyes, which means it doesn’t impact the vision in darkness. That allows the officers to quickly switch from a lighted environment to the dark outside without waiting for the eyes to recover from white light.

Red Interior Lights ~ Ran When Parked

Please read the full details in the next section. After that, you’ll find out whether you can also install red interior lights in your car and if there are any legal restrictions you may need to consider.

Why Do Cops Use Red Lights Inside Their Vehicles?

Cops use red lights inside their vehicles because human eyes are less sensitive to red than white light, so it helps maintain vision in the dark. Red light is also less conspicuous, which enhances their safety. Its soothing effect eliminates eye strain and stress, boosting police efficiency in their tasks.

Many people know why police vehicles use red and blue on the light bar. But in case you’re in the dark, studies show drivers who have trouble seeing blue have no problem seeing red. Similarly, people who can’t see red can see blue without an issue. Police cars use the red and blue light combination in specific flashing patterns when in motion.

The use of both flashing red and blue police lights on the light bar helps to warn all road users, including colorblind drivers, to clear the right of way for emergency vehicles. The red and blue lights are also meant to warn approaching motorists of possible hazards.

But why do cops have red interior lights in California? Considering how meticulously police lights are designed, there’s definitely a reason behind the use of red lights inside police cars.

While working in the midnights, police usually must write reports and other documentation. Two things will happen if they are working under the white dome light. They will destroy their night vision, making it harder to see in the dark until the eyes readjust.

The white light will also illuminate them to anyone wanting to cause harm, thus, as detailed here, the red interior light helps address both concerns.

Maintain Night Vision

Our eyes are less sensitive to red lights than the white and blue lights, so they don’t have to work as hard to process them. In other words, red light is less disruptive to night vision, meaning your eyes recover faster. This type of light doesn’t mess up the pupils’ dilation.

A white light will cause your pupils to get smaller, leading to poor visibility in the dark.

Maintain Night Vision ~ Ran When Parked

When people might need to move from a lighted interior to the dark night outside or see things out through the windows, using red lights is recommended. That’s not only done in police vehicles but also in warships, aircraft cockpits, and submarines.

Red light enables you to maintain most of your vision at night, which can take up to half an hour to fully adapt to white light.

As stated, the main reason for using red interior lights instead of white or blue lights is that red won’t impact an officer’s vision in the dark. That’s why they are also used as emergency lights in emergency vehicles. Police cars have these lights inside to help law enforcement officers maintain their vision in darkness.

Being able to see clearly in the dark is crucial for police and emergency responders because they may be required to go from inactive to active in seconds.

So, why do cops have red interior lights at night? The cops don’t have time to wait for their eyes to adjust in the dark, and having red interior lights car saves them critical seconds.

Experts say it can take up to 30 minutes for human eyes to fully adjust to darkness, and for police officers, 30 minutes can be too much when responding to an emergency.

Red Interior Light Enhances Officers’ Efficiency

Why do cops have red interior lights reddit also happens to be one of the most frequently asked questions, and we’ve already discussed the main reason. Another reason is that red interior light is kinder to the eyes than white.

As such, it has a soothing effect, meaning law enforcement officers don’t overwork their eyes in the dark. Night working is already challenging, as sleeping patterns are hard to regulate.

Red Light in Cop Car ~ Ran When Parked

Given the harm white or blue lights can do, red light may help mitigate some of the effects of staying up all night. The red lighting helps reduce stress and maintain focus.

That enhances officers’ safety and efficiency, enabling them to quickly assess and act in various situations, especially during night-time operations. For example, the red light is often just sufficient to see by.

If a police officer stops you and requests to see your driver’s license or other document, they can use the red light to check it without ruining their vision. The officers can be confident that they won’t suddenly go blind when they step out of their vehicle, reducing the risk to themselves.

Besides, the red interior light helps to positively influence the community’s perceptions of police professionalism and readiness.

Enhances Officers’ Security

The red dome light police vehicles are remarkably less conspicuous than white light. That means if police officers need to have the light on to carry out some tasks, they aren’t lit up for everyone to see them. As stated, that helps keep them safe from anyone with ill intentions.

The red interior lighting also implies that the officers can see through their windows and quickly discover what’s happening around them.

Security of a Police Vehicles ~ Ran When Parked

For those asking what does it mean when a police car has lights on but no siren, it’s simple. If the lights are on, but there is no siren, there could be an ongoing crime, and the law enforcers don’t want to alert the perpetrators to their presence.

It could also be that though the officers are headed to an emergency, no traffic on the road requires clearing the right of way.

Red Interior Lights on Private Cars

Modifying your car, including interior lighting, to be different from stock can be fun. For some private vehicle owners, having red interior lights looks cool. That’s generally the main reason you’ll find red lighting on the interior of vehicles. But now that you know their benefits, you might also be interested in putting them inside your car.

Interior Lights on Private Cars ~ Ran When Parked

Many people switch out their interior ceiling LED lights with red ones because they are inexpensive and easy to install. A red interior at night can significantly affect how your vehicle feels, especially because a red interior doesn’t get as hot as dark or gray interior.

It can add a lot of flair to your vehicle’s design. Red interior light installation can be one of the quickest and cheapest ways of upgrading your interior lighting and make your car stand out from the crowd.

But are red interior lights illegal? No, they are not. Anyone can have a red-lighted car interior, but there are a few restrictions you’ll need to keep in mind. One is to ensure no red color light is visible from the front of the vehicle.

The law is also against using flashing lights unless they are blue and red emergency lights, which should only be left to the police and other emergency vehicles.

Red Interior Lights on Truck

Why do truckers have red interior lights? Truck drivers benefit a lot from this interior lighting. They can pull over quickly, do what they need, and continue driving without delay. Even if the long haul drivers need to switch on their lighting while driving, it won’t impact their visibility when the lights are turned on.

Red Lights on Truck ~ Ran When Parked

In addition to helping retain your vision in darkness, red interior lights don’t glare as much as white lights. As a result, these lights can be used by a passenger in the truck while the driver drives.

Glare on side mirrors, windows, and windshields can hide things, creating blind spots. Red interior light minimizes the glare, ensuring a much safer environment for the driver.

That’s especially helpful for truckers who drive with a co-driver and families that go off-roading together. Still, on trucks, you may have wondered what is the red light usually on the back. It’s called a clearance light, meant to alert other drivers to the vehicle’s extreme width. However, clearance lights on the truck’s front show yellow.

Only the lights on the back should be red for easy visibility and safety reasons. Also, the rear clearance lights must be independent indicators from the tail lights.


Our article has satisfied your curiosity about why cops use red for their vehicles’ interior lighting.

Let’s summarize a few crucial points:

  • Cops mainly use red interior lights in their emergency vehicles’ interior to avoid damaging their vision at night.
  • Red is kinder to the eyes than white light, meaning police officers can strain less, be more focused, and be able to swiftly switch from a lighted environment to darkness without a problem.
  • That enables the police to be more efficient in accessing and acting in various situations during night operations.
  • Red interior light is also less conspicuous than white light, which means the cops can have their lights on to do their work without jeopardizing their safety.
  • Long-haul truck drivers also find red interior lighting helpful as they can pull over, do what they need, and quickly start driving without waiting for their eyes to recover from the light.

You’re now well-informed on the importance of red interior lights at night and why cops use them in their emergency vehicles. Remember, you can also install the lighting in your car’s interior when you check your local laws and abide by the specified restrictions.

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