Crash risk and the colour of your car

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The notion that there is a relationship between car colour and crash risk may initially sound ridiculous, equivalent to the belief that red cars go faster.

Nor is it likely that many people in the market for a new car would have ‘colour’ amongst airbags and electronic stability programs on their list of desired safety features.

Yet when light conditions are taken into consideration, there is a clear statistical relationship between a vehicle’s colour and its crash risk, as detailed in a report by Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) in 2007. Compared to white, colours such as black, blue, grey and others ranking lower on the visibility index were associated with higher crash risk in daylight hours.

MUARC’s research remains the most up to date research on this topic. It suggests crash severity is linked to vehicle colour, with “low visibility colours having higher risks of more severe crashes.”

Previous studies

A study in Epidemiology from 2002 found white and yellow cars had a slightly lower risk of being passively involved in a crash. This was followed by a study published in BMJ (British Medical Journal) in 2003 concluding that silver cars were 50% less likely than white cars to be involved in a crash resulting in serious injury. The association between silver and reduced risk continued even when confounding factors were adjusted.

Both these studies, according to MUARC, were inconclusive. These two studies, as well as prior ones, left the role of colour in influencing crash risk as being uncertain, prompting MUARC to undertake a more in-depth study.

The MUARC study

NRMA vehicle specialist Jack Haley said the MUARC study remains arguably the most comprehensive to probe the link between vehicle colour and crash risk.

“Previous international studies have examined vehicle visibility and colour but have not fully taken into account other factors that may have an impact on crash risk, such as driver demographics,” Mr Haley said.

Using crash data from Victoria and Western Australia, MUARC used the colour classifications black, blue, brown cream, fawn, gold, green, grey, maroon, white mauve, orange, pink, purple, red, silver and yellow, with all variables considered under the nearest category. Also included in the study were conditions such as light at the time of the crash, vehicle type, crash severity and state. Commercial vehicles and taxis were excluded.

Results

The result compared white vehicles with all other coloured vehicles. MUARC’s research showed there were a number of colours related to high risk, including:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Grey
  • Green
  • Red
  • Silver

None of the colours tested were statistically safer than white, though some had equal relative crash risk.

The association between colour and crash risk was highest during daylight hours, the risk associated with the above colours during this period up by 10%. The link was reduced during darker driving hours due to colour being less distinguishable and headlights further reducing colour’s effects. Results also showed that environmental factors had an impact on the relationship between colour and crash risk.

Of the study, Dr Soames Job of the RTA’s NSW Centre for Road Safety said the results were useful but other factors were more influential on crash risk and for drivers to be aware of this.

“Driving a darker coloured car can increase your crash risk,” Dr Job said, “but that is nowhere near as influential a factor as your driving behaviour. By driving within the speed limit, not driving after drinking and avoiding driving when tired, you increase your safety on the road.”

Is colour something you’ve taken into consideration when buying a car? Are there any colours you have difficulty seeing in certain conditions?

BLOG first published in 2007 – updated  23/6/15

GPS, Compasses, Cows: How to find your location when broken down

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MOO: There have been instances where the name of a farmhouse or breed of cow in a paddock has helped our staff to locate a breakdown.

No one ever plans to breakdown, especially in an unfamiliar area when away from home. When this happens the first instinct is to look for help, more often than not from the NRMA.

On receiving your call, the call centre representative will ask: “What is your location? Are you in a safe place?”. If you don’t recognise your surroundings, this can be hard to answer. Fortunately, there are a few different ways you can help us find you, so we can get you back on the road again in no time.

GPS Units and Mobile Phones

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are available through Satellite Navigation Units and many smartphone mapping applications, including Google Maps. Most of the time, your GPS device or smartphone will provide the street or road name where you are broken down within a 1km radius in Metropolitan Areas or a 5km radius in rural locations.

Coordinates from a GPS unit or Compass App (under ‘Utilities’ on an iPhone or you can download on other smartphones) can also be used if you are unfamiliar with your location. Our call centre staff can also guide you through the process of retrieving this information from your phone or GPS unit.

NRMA Smartphone App

The NRMA Smartphone App is free to download and is available for Apple, Android and Windows devices. When you first download the app, enter your membership number and postcode details. These will then be stored for future use. When you need to request Roadside assistance, simply log on to the app and follow the steps. You don’t need to call and wait in the queue. The location of the callout will be sent using your smartphone’s GPS so we will find you.

Local Area Knowledge

If you don’t have a smartphone or GPS, any details about a location can help us find you, especially in rural areas. Information such as the direction you are travelling or approximate distance from the last town can be helpful.

There have been many instances where local information such as the name of a farmhouse or breed of cow in a paddock has helped our staff to locate a breakdown. Our call centre staff will try to obtain as much information through questioning and often conference a call with a local contractor to help us work out where you are so we can get to you quicker.

Emergency Phones 

You may have seen various emergency bays with phones in your travels along freeways and highways and wondered what they do. Each emergency phone has a three digit serial number which provides its exact location and direct calls to 13 11 11 so we can arrange Roadside Assistance. In the event of an emergency or accident, our staff can transfer a call to an emergency service or insurance provider.

If you happen to break down in an area you are unfamiliar with, don’t panic. Just contact the NRMA, follow the tips above and be sure to find a safe spot to wait. Then a friendly NRMA Patrol will attend as soon as possible. In the meantime, safe driving!

Have you ever broken down in an unfamiliar location? What did you do?

Seven simple tips to prevent your car breaking down

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HERE TO HELP: We’re here when you need us.

Whether you are driving far this long weekend or staying local, a breakdown is the last thing you need. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do that will dramatically reduce your chances of having your long weekend shortened by car trouble!

Always close your boot and doors properly

This one seems simple but one of the biggest causes of flat batteries occurs when an interior light is left on. Make sure all the doors and the boot are completely closed. The last thing you want is a flat battery, or even worse, a thief stealing your property or vehicle.

Turn off your headlights

This also seems obvious but many NRMA call outs occur when a Member has left the headlights on by mistake and drained their battery.

Check your tyres

Apart from checking pressure and roadworthiness for all tyres, including the spare, it’s also essential to ensure you have a jack, wheel brace and lock nut tool specific for your vehicle. If you get a flat tyre, an NRMA patrol will only replace the tyre if a roadworthy spare is available, otherwise towing is available.

Know your mechanic

Many mechanics are closed over the long weekend, so it’s handy to have an idea of your preferred mechanic’s trading hours in case your vehicle needs towing. Otherwise, your NRMA Patrol will recommend an approved repairer or MotorServe in your area.

Check your oil level

Checking your oil is a simple and quick way to prevent a breakdown. Wait for a few minutes after you turn the engine off, and park on a level piece of roadway for the oil to settle. Before you remove the dipstick, make sure you look closely at its entry point into the engine – or you may not be able to reinsert it – and then wipe with a clean cloth or paper towel. Marked towards the lower end are the high and low-level markings, and the engine oil should always be between these two points. If it’s not between the points, add the correct specification oil via the engine oil filler cap located on the top of the engine.

Check your coolant

Checking the coolant level is just as simple. The easiest way is to check the plastic reserve tank that’s connected to the cooling system. On the side of the reservoir will be a low and high mark and the coolant level should be between the two marks. It’s always good practice to check the coolant level on the radiator via the radiator cap, with one important proviso – this should always be done when the engine is cold. Removing the cap when the engine is hot can cause coolant to spray out under pressure, seriously scalding you. If the level is low you can add coolant, again checking the owner’s handbook for the correct recommendation.

Check your brake fluid level

You should also check your brake fluid level regularly. Normally located at the back or side of the engine bay, the brake fluid reservoir is usually made of plastic with a high and low marking on the side. Normally the fluid will sit between these graduations, and vary slightly as the brake pads wear. If the level is continuously low and dropping there could be a leak in the braking system that requires immediate mechanical attention.

Also please note that NRMA offers free vehicle and battery health checks for Members so you can to pre-emptively deal with any potential problems. In the unfortunate event of a break-down, don’t worry! Extra NRMA patrol staff will be on hand over the weekend. Just log a request for assistance via the NRMA smartphone app or call 13 11 11. We are here and ready to help 24/7, whenever you need us.

Can you participate in a new child restraint study?

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TEST SUBJECTS: Restraint, ease of use and comfort compared between integrated and add on booster seats.

Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Sydney, is recruiting parents and their children as part of its child restraint study.

Parents will be asked to install, adjust and evaluate a child restraint and an in-built restraint for their child. Their child will be then seated in the restraint and their comfort scored via video analysis.

NeuRa is interested in learning more about the real world experience of using child car seats to better understand how parents and carers could use child restraints more easily and optimise restraints for child comfort.

NeuRA’s study is aimed at providing information and recommendations for vehicle and restraint designers to improve ease of use and comfort of child car seats.

Who can take part?

In order to participate in this survey you must meet the following criteria.

  • Own a car
  • Have a child between the ages 4-8 that travels in your car at least once a week
  • An Australian Resident aged 18 or over.

Participants will be reimbursed $50 for their time.

For more information or to register to take part in the study email: brown-lab@neura.edu.au or phone: (02) 9399 1844.

Here’s more information on child restraints or see NRMA’s online guide to buying a child restraint.

Road safety is in your hands – take the Fatality Free pledge

SIGN UP: Let’s make every day fatality free on our roads.

We remind NRMA Members to drive safely and take the Fatality Free Friday pledge today.

Fatality Free Friday (29 May 2015) is an initiative of the Australian Road Safety Foundation which calls for road users to make a promise to themselves, their family and friends to consciously drive safely and obey road rules.

Deputy Premier of New South Wales and Minister for Police, Troy Grant, has encouraged all motorists to join the initiative and take the pledge.

“Throughout my career I have seen countless road accidents, many of which could have been avoided, so I encourage all motorists to get join the initiative, follow the road rules, drive to the conditions and help avoid more accidents,” the Deputy Premier said.

So far this year, 137 people have died in road-related collisions across NSW, and Fatality Free Friday is a reminder to stay safe on our roads.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, said road safety is everyone’s responsibility.

“Pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, passengers, and drivers alike, play an important role in keeping themselves and others safe on the road,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.

“We all have a responsibility to make good decisions and act safely, whether behind the wheel, controlling the bike or crossing the road.

“Police will be out in force tomorrow, targeting the fatal five: speeding, drink-and-drug-driving, seatbelt use, driving tired and driver distractions.

“Take the pledge to reduce fatalities. Say ‘road safety is up to me’. Show Australia you are dedicated to keeping roads safe for everyone,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.

Road users are also able to make their road safety pledge in person between 8am and 3pm tomorrow at World Square Shopping Centre, or by visiting www.fatalityfreefriday.com or on the Fatality Free Friday Facebook page.

Fatality Free Friday is run by the Australian Road Safety Foundation, a not for profit organisation established to reduce road trauma across Australia.

Will you take the pledge?