Skip to main content

Should I get a red codriver light?

Codrivers usually have a light hanging over their shoulder, so they can do their reading in the dark. Often people wonder if they should use a red light for this, to preserve their night vision.

The short answer is: no, you don't need a red light.

First, the whole idea is that you are maintaining your night vision for a low light environment. Like a "moonless night" type of environment. No rally car, with four massive pod lights or LED bars, plus headlights, is operating in a low light environment. Rally cars are ridiculously bright.

You'll often see red light used in old war movies where they show submarines. Yes, the did use red light in old submarines. They also had to be able to put the periscope up, and look through it with their own eyes (no night vision equipment) and spot a gray ship on a black ocean against a black sky. So these people really were trying to operate in a low light, "moonless night" type of environment. Even though the military has shifted to green for night vision preservation, their real change is to using technology like night vision goggles.

The low light preservation that we're talking about is the chemical rhodopsin, which is present in the rods on your retina. Light bleaches out the rhodopsin, and you need that rhodopsin for your best low light vision. However, remember your biology: your rods do your black and white vision. So a simple rule of thumb is "If there's enough light that you can easily see color, you are using your cones." In this sort of environment, you are well above the threshold where any amount of rhodopsin would change anything.