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

98 thoughts on “Crash risk and the colour of your car

  1. It makes sense. But i never thought about it when buying a car. Actually i never even thought about it when driving. i think some colours like yellow or hot pink are, even though very bright and easy to see during day or night, are very eye catching and could cause an accident that way…

    • Actually, accident would be less likely if they are eye catching since one of the highest cause of accident is FAILING to notice vehicle on the road.

      In the worst case scenario, someone gets so distracted say by the eye catching car, he wouldn’t likely crash into it… since the very fact that it’s eye catching would give the car more presence in his mind, if he’s stupid enough to lose attention off the road and crash into SOMETHING else in front of him… then that’s his fault… such driver ought not be on the road to begin with.

      • I got my licence at age 18 and am now 62 so have been driving for 44 years and touch wood no major events, backed into the odd pole driving big station wagons, always manages to get behind the rear pillar where you just can’t see it but have had a few near misses involving grey, silver and generally dark coloured cars, darkish green being one of them out in the bush, my misses has just got a corolla which is named on the rego papers as the colour graphite, very dark grey bordering on black, not really good colour on wintery morning roads in Melbourne when on the way to work, hoping she is going to take my advice and use her lights, despite being fairly late model does not have auto lights off unlike my much older VS Holden, it does sound alarm though, moral of the story, use your lights

          • I have owned a darker shade of green Honda Odessy since new in 2002. In the 13 years of owning it, it has been hit in one form or another 15 times tho none have been serious. 11 of those hits were when the car was parked. The other 4 were while moving. I will never own another green car again as a result. The damages incurred just being parked were very costly and the moving accidents actually were less in cost. Furthermore, the last accident was again parked related n this time the damage maybe more than the value of the vehicle itself causing it to be a total loss. All of the parked accident the other drivers left the scene n to fix those I had to pay the deductible each time. So 11x 500 is what I had to pay for other
            Drivers hitting my car while I was parked. And to make
            Matters even worse I am a disabled Veteran parking in handicapped spots and had all this happen in those spots. The driving accidents other drivers did not see me and even a pedestrian walked into my car while making a slow left turn. I lost that case even tho he walked into me and wasn’t even in or near a crosswalk. Go figure. So green will Never be my color of choice again even tho I chose the color to match my last name.

          • I have owned a darker shade of green Honda Odessy since new in 2002. In the 13 years of owning it, it has been hit in one form or another 15 times tho none have been serious. 11 of those hits were when the car was parked. The other 4 were while moving. I will never own another green car again as a result. The damages incurred just being parked were very costly and the moving accidents actually were less in cost. Furthermore, the last accident was again parked related n this time the damage maybe more than the value of the vehicle itself causing it to be a total loss. All of the parked accident the other drivers left the scene n to fix those I had to pay the deductible each time. So 11x 500 is what I had to pay for other
            Drivers hitting my car while I was parked. And to make
            Matters even worse I am a disabled Veteran parking in handicapped spots and had all this happen in those spots. The driving accidents other drivers did not see me and even a pedestrian walked into my car while making a slow left turn. I lost that case even tho he walked into me and wasn’t even in or near a crosswalk. Go figure. So green will Never be my color of choice again even tho I chose the color to match my last name. I’d also like to add that in every one of the moving accident were not serious and I did have my lights on. One of the accidents was with a white car who was on the phone being distracted at the time. The other
            accidents were with silver and darker cars. Now I must note that I have been driving for almost 50 years in city traffic and all those moving accidents happened to me in a 3 month period. The rest of the parked
            Accidents left colors of white, red, silver, and black and in that order.
            I could use some help in picking the color of my next car. Can anyone give some better choices other than White? Thanks
            Tom

            • I also owned a dark green car (mazda 121 hatch) that was involved in 6 accidents over 5 years, only one of which was my fault (rear passenger door vs fence along driveway). I will never ever ever buy another green car. ever!

          • I have owned a darker shade of green Honda Odessy since new in 2002. In the 13 years of owning it, it has been hit in one form or another 15 times tho none have been serious. 11 of those hits were when the car was parked. The other 4 were while moving. I will never own another green car again as a result. The damages incurred just being parked were very costly and the moving accidents actually were less in cost. Furthermore, the last accident was again parked related n this time the damage maybe more than the value of the vehicle itself causing it to be a total loss. All of the parked accident the other drivers left the scene n to fix those I had to pay the deductible each time. So 11x 500 is what I had to pay for other
            Drivers hitting my car while I was parked. And to make
            Matters even worse I am a disabled Veteran parking in handicapped spots and had all this happen in those spots. The driving accidents other drivers did not see me and even a pedestrian walked into my car while making a slow left turn. I lost that case even tho he walked into me and wasn’t even in or near a crosswalk. Go figure. So green will Never be my color of choice again even tho I chose the color to match my last name. I’d also like to add that in every one of the moving accident were not serious and I did have my lights on. One of the accidents was with a white car who was on the phone being distracted at the time. The other
            accidents were with silver and darker cars. Now I must note that I have been driving for almost 50 years in city traffic and all those moving accidents happened to me in a 3 month period. The rest of the parked
            Accidents left colors of white, red, silver, and black and in that order.
            I could use some help in picking the color of my next car. Can anyone give some better choices other than White? Thanks
            Tom

            • Tom … Look at the colour yellow. It is the most standout colour on the road over the many years I have been driving …. I have taken a real interest in the colour of cars. I have a “red” Mazda CX5 but would certainly have bought yellow if that was available
              Fran

            • Tom, I hope you weren’t failing to give way to a pedestrian when turning. It is terrifying how many arrogant drivers can’t be bothered with road rules and think they can mow people down. What are you like with roundabouts ?

        • I also have to ad people not using there turn signals. It drives me crazy when I could have been on time if a person took one second just to turn on their turn signal. Is it really that hard?

      • A few years ago I was keeping my mother’s dark blue/green car going while also driving my own white car. I noticed a considerable difference between the two. I had to drive much more defensively in the darker car as drivers tended much more often to pull straight out in front of it. I didn’t have an accident but I could tell the difference. My current car is yellow which I would buy again but I don’t think they make them any more so I will settle for white. This is only anecdotal of course.

    • I drive a bright red Commodore with headlights ablaze day and night but that seems to be invisible to most people in roundabouts here on the mid north coast!

      • Just what you need, a car with headlights blazing in the middle of the day. If you can’t see a red car in daylight you shouldn’t be driving, the glare from headlight on in the day is nothing more than a nuisance to other road users
        .

  2. I have always bought white cars both for visibility and for coolness. The colours i find most invisible are grey and blue against a bitumen road or a dark background

  3. When I had an accident in my white car a few years back, the driver of the other car didn’t give way to me at a Give Way sign. He did have a sight problem though, blurred vision from drugs! Anyway, the tow truck driver who arrived within minutes at the scene informed me that the worst car colour for accidents is dark blue. It seemed that it was a well known fact, I have heard it on a number of occasions since.

    The cars I have trouble seeing, especially in the evening when it’s raining, are the very dark colours. I always steer away from buying dark coloured cars.

  4. Why don’t we have cars made of rubber, a bit like dodgem cars? That way we could bounce off each other’s cars and it doesn’t matter about the colour!

  5. If I was buying a new car I’d opt for black just because it’s the best in covering up dirt and environmental scuffs like raindrops and bird poo. However, knowing how hard it is for me- even with good eyesight to see dark coloured cars at night, I would definitely prefer a silver or white car.

    Particularly with how blindingly bright they are making standard headlights for cars these days, its no wonder poor vision is at fault for night car crashes!

    But for some reason I just don’t see the link between car colour and car crashes during the day?

    • Actually I’ve found white cars are better at not showing up dirt, scratches and dings as much, though I got sick of that colour and bought a dark silver car last time, which shows up everything but I still think it looks more flash

  6. I’ve been driving black coloured cars for the last 15 years [yes, a glutton for punishment to keep them clean] and found very early on that many people just “didn’t see” the car against the colour of the bitumen, regardless of whether it was day or night. Mind you, a lot of drivers just don’t take the time to actually look and see what’s coming before turning onto the road – they just glance and go!

    I always drive with my parking lights on, and as my current car is black and low, I also have the fog lights on. I know this probably annoys some other drivers, but have found since doing so that I don’t have cars just pulling out of streets / driveways right in front of me. The foggies are a bit annoying I know [I wear glasses to drive and find the fog lights annoying rather than distracting] but they definitely make a dark car far more visible to all – and to my way of thinking, work as a safety factor for me and other drivers.

    • It’s illegal to drive with foglights on, except for foggy conditions!!

      I have had cars behind mine and in oncoming lanes with fog lights on at night time and it is blinding!

      I once was driving a different car to my own and a big high ute with foglights blaring away came up behind me. I couldn’t seem to adjust the rear vision mirror with one hand whilst driving and the overwhelming brightness of the fog lights close behind me meant I couldn’t properly see the road in front of me. I was on a narrow road with no pull off verge so had to slow down in the hope the offending car would overtake me, which it eventually did. It really was blinding, and quite dangerous.

      As to colours, I usually have white cars. For the climate we have in Australia and for road vision as per this article. They show up every speck of dirt so another colour might be better in that respect…

  7. Interesting. I do find that some colours are harder to detect as being vehicles in my peripheral vision when driving. This becomes a problem at intersections and blind spots when overtaking. I consider myself a safe driver, not having any major collisions in my 20 or so years of driving, but there have been occasions when others cars have seemed to appear out of thin air and I have wondered how I could possibly have missed them. I’ll try to note the car colour next time it happens.

    Also, I read some other stats the other day saying the worst time for accidents is between 12 and 4 in the arvo.

  8. Also, Marta, I think its interesting how you have had incidents where you have been told your car is hard to see. Was this common for you or just once or twice?

  9. I’m with shazza
    The brightness, for other drivers, of the new style headlights is a concern. They are worse then someone having their lights on high beam!

  10. I prefer white for coolness and visibility, with yellow a second preference.
    While I have not had an accident, I have had several frights, particularly near sunset and/or in rainy conditions. The other vehicles involved on those occasions were dark colours particularly metallic blues, greys and black which all merge against the road surface. As stated above, worst conditions are in twilight with a wet road surface and light rain.
    Many drivers of dark cars seem oblivious of their poor visibility and delay turning on their headlights in dim conditions.
    Perhaps consideration could be given to making the old “speed stripes” that were once popular, a mandatory requirement for “low visibility” colours.

  11. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the latest in Mazda vehicle designs. However, while shopping for an RX8 I was advised the yellow that made the Wheels car of the year was DELETED.
    When I went shopping for an NC MX5, I was told the white was DELETED from the 2007 model year.
    I now drive a Stormy Blue MX5, and when I picked it up, I sighted a White RX8 that I was previously told would never happen.
    The world never goes in a SAFE colour direction!

  12. My first car was dark grey. I had at least 2 occasions when a car veered on to the wrong side of the road without seeing my car. From then on I drove with lights on when visibility was poor.

    My next car was white and I dont recall any frights.
    It did not heat up nearly so much on hot days. Cars with white rooves and less sloping windscreens would help stop them becoming death traps on hot days for pets and occasionally young kids left in cars.

  13. Yellow is the most visible colour to the optic nerve. That is why Yellow cars, signs, etc are more visible than other colours including white. The most dangerous item in use, which should be outlawed is idiots leaving on driving/fog lights.

  14. I have always found the greys to blues to be the hard to see colours. As my car is a metallic green, I have taken to using my lights in the daytime, especially in the mid to late afternoon to make it more visible. Around home, the setting sun can be a major additional factor in visibility, especially in Autumn and Spring, as sundown gets closer to the time for leaving work.
    While my late father always preferred his white cars for coolness and cleanness to his mind, I’ve selected for other reasons and would never consider the yellow/orange or fluoro type colours: Migraine material ?!!

  15. With the overall poor quality of drivers today I doubt any colour will reduce the risk of being hit. Having driven all colours, with lights on/off, loud exhaust etc the average “blinkered” driver will still pull out, change lanes, park into and generally try their hardest to hit you.

  16. What colour are bitumen roads?….Grey.
    So any car colour that blends into the road (grey, silver etc) has a tendency to disappear from view.
    Have you ever put your hand on a white car and then a dark car and felt the heat difference on a sunny day? You car air conditioning therefore has to work harder or longer in a dark car, thereby increasing your fuel comsumption….another good reason to choose white.

  17. There are silvery-grey cars, seemingly predominant in showrooms, which blend well with the road. Slight variations blend better depending on rain, road colour, etc. Not necessarily dark, but camoflage colours. As it is possibly unethical to ban these vehicles, insurance premiums should represent any increased risks. Also, the studies may have allocated a crash to another factor, such as speed or road surface, but would not necessarily show relative risk. For example, if there were a tendency for those who drove agressively to drive red cars, & for semiconscous dreamers to have ghost colours, the contribution could be equalised. I find it difficult to accept that cars which are near invisible, are as easily avoided. Did the research iclude correlating “I just didn’t see it” with car colour?
    As the mindset of car puchasers has more to do with warped fashion-ego than consequence, those who insist on being the invisible car, should be made to pay. More simple could be a visibilty standard.

  18. Colours do make a difference to visibility, but under some conditions even in broad daylight almost any coloured car is hard to see.

    If you have your lights on any time of day you will always be more visible. Don’t use fog lights for visibility – they are only of use in fog – the beam is too low and wide. Many people call other driving lights fog lights but, in fact, they are either flood lights or spot lights – both types are way too bright to be used in any traffic conditions.

    So, light-coloured cars have a bit of an advantage – but not in all lighting conditions. The real answer is drive with your normal lights on – all the time.

  19. This is a risk factor that we have always been aware of. We have asked car sales people why they do not sell lower risk colours such as yellow and they say there is no demand from customers. However, I believe that the manufacturers decide which colours will be popular in the marketplace. This is probably done with some interest from the paint manufacturers.

  20. Visibility is greatly increased by having headlights always on….On country roads in particular, a car with its lights is visible at a far greater distance than one without, regardless of the cars colour.
    I am positive that others notice me more because I have a lights on policy.
    White and silver are far to common colours for me to want one .. pick the colour you like and leave the lights on…even in a white car!

  21. The driving behavior is more of a factor than the color of the car. There are lots of idioots and dangerous drivers on the road. Even they see cars coming in, they often signal and turn straight awaty without better judgment. The color of the car only affects 1% and 90% are the behavior and how many years of experience you have been driving and 8% others: road condition and your condition (tire etc)

  22. I always prefer to buy light cpoloured cars, white, silver etc as here is no doubt in my mind that they are cooler and definately easier to see in any driving condition.

    In response to the comments from Marta in these matters, he should read a traffic rules handbook to find that driving with fog lights on at any time other than in advise weather conditions is, in fact, illegal.

    There are so many cars these days driving around with fog lights on that it is obvious that most people are not aware or don’t care what the law says on this matter.

  23. I switched to a dark green Volvo, after six years in a white VW.
    Around town there was little trouble, but it was a different kettle of crash avoidance out on the open road, particulary when driving on a road in shade, because of roadside trees; it seemed the Volvo was invisible.

    Solution: turn on the headlights, not just at night!

    Off-topic, sure, but aren’t those blue-tinted headlight globes a regular pain in the eye, particularly when the vehicle’s coming up a hill.

  24. The only time I’ve come close to being in an accident was in the rain at dusk and the car I nearly hit was silver. They didn’t have lights on and it blended in with the surrounding’s. I just didn’t see it and was in a state of shock for a while afterwards. Most cars I have owned were/are light colours.

  25. I thought it’s more about contrast with the surroundings rather than actual colour.. it just occurs that darker colours have lower contrast with the surroundings, green or brown terrain, shadows etc. I always try to drive with headlights on, lo-beam only, and believe that when this is done, the colour of the vehicle or even how much dirt and dust is adorning it become less of an influence. You can nearly always spot a car with it’s lights on well before you detect it’s colour or size.

    Now, if we could just get all those dummies using white fog lights to turn them off, anytime! then that would be a great achievement.

  26. In just about every country that has headlighs on during daylight hours there has been an increase in accidents. ‘Headlights on’ cause distraction especially from behind. Somone driving under the inflenceof drugs or medication is always attracted to oncoming lights. Children and elderly people have difficulty in estimating the distance of a light Most people cannot estimate the distance away of a bright light at night. Do something about the current blue light fad on some cars.

    Why does NRMA support lights on Because of less payout on insurance.You can be 100% right in the an accident and the big Question will reduce the payout “Could you hav e been seen better with your lights ”
    What a trick.
    Why do oil Companies support light on? Have a guess
    Why do Government support this You use a lot more fuel of course.

    How many tonnes of CO2 are used with lights on NRMA will tell you its nothing. Trying getting some authentic calculations.

    Only 3% of motorist want light on Fear and false information is increasing it to 8 and 9 % Wake up Australia.

  27. If you live in a northern climate, as I do, you have to consider white a hazard in a snow storm…..it would be very hard to see.

  28. If you’re in a northern climate like I am, you’d have to consider a white vehicle a bit of a hazard in a snow storm… it would be hard to see through the falling snow.

  29. Black, grey and dark colour cars are known to rate poorly for visibility. Next time you are on the road during periods of poor visibility eg dawn, dusk and rain check out which cars don’t have their lights on. My experience is that the majority of them are black, grey and dark coloured cars. I guess drivers of these cars just don’t get it.

  30. Take note: over 80% of cars sold in Australia are dark colour cars. Have the bright minds of MUARC taken this into account?

  31. Poor Light can lead to an accident, especially “HEAD ON”. Whilst colour does have a “big” effect, I strongly urge all drivers “TO THINK TWICE” and to ensure that your “Lights are turned on at “Dusk”, “Dawn” or other “Bad light situation”. Why I say this, is simply because we, our passengers or other lives could be at risk. We seem to think to ourselves – “I’m OK”, I can see, I don’t need any lights yet or I can now turn my lights off!!! Is this correct? Yes it is. However, in actual fact, these are the times that we as drivers need to protect “Ourselves” and “Others”. We need those “Other drivers” especially to see us and we especially need to see them.

  32. I had a red car and it got run into ALL THE FREAKING TIME. Hell, half the time I was stopped. Probably 11 times in 8 years until finally someone totaled it. I completely believe that color has something to do with it.

  33. Charcoal cars are impossible to see on some roads in wet weather. They are so close to the colour of the road in these conditions.
    It will always be white as first choice for me. Easier to see and it looks clean for longer – a bonus when you live in a country area on an unsealed road.

  34. Hi there,
    I do a lot of country travel, towing a caravan.
    I find that DARK coloured cars coming from behind are EXTREMELY HAD TO SEE.
    Even though I have a rear view camera on my caravan, they still sneak up on me.
    In fact, anyone coming from behind to overtake a long vehicle, caravan, semi trailer etc, is more visible with their LIGHTS ON.

  35. Having travelled a number of States at various times “day, night or weather”, I certainly agree that colour of a vehicle can make a difference. However, that doesn’t mean that we change vehicle colour. What is more important, is that “OTHERS MAY NOT SEE OUR VEHICLE” (No matter whether we can see with ease or not). e.g. Pedestrians; Other vehicles (particularly those overtaking for a possible head on collision) etc. During times of “Dusk / Dawn or Poor light”, I feel that it is very important for all of us to “turn on” our head lights early and turns them off late, to ensure the overall safety for you, your passengers, pedestrians and oncoming vehicles (particularly to avoid a “Head on”). Safety comes first – Not assumptions.

  36. Without a doubt, the worst colours are charcoal grey and the darker “silver” greys. They simply disappear against an asphalt background. I’ve always preferred white as the most practical colour for cars.

    As for night driving, the greatest disaster has been the fitting of those wretched bi-xenon headlights. I am now 69, and I find that oncoming cars with such headlights dazzle me badly enough that it takes too long to re-adjust. No-one under about 45 seems to understand this.

    • Yes, it is because of the same thoughtlessness that led to them choosing a poor visibility colour in the first place and never realizing the extra risk for all that they are adding to driving.

  37. It is not so much the colour of vehicles that disturbs me but the overwhelming number of drivers who fail to turn on their headlights as the sun goes down. Dark cars on dark bitumen roads in the fading light are difficult to see until they are right on top of you. I followed a B-double a couple of weeks ago which had no lights on the rear end and coming up behind this vehicle at 110 kph was hairy to say the least. In the winter months as the sun disappears just before 5.00 p.m. is the time to turn on the lights – doesn’t the Act state that vehicles are to be illuminated between sundown and sunup???
    How about mounting a NATIONAL CAMPAIGN to promote headlights !!!

  38. I had a maroon car that looked fantastic when clean and polished but was run into 4 times in the first two years I had it by people who said they didn’t see me. Then when in a traffic jam where I could see about a kilometre ahead I picked out the colour that stood out. After the last accident I had the whole car resprayed. I was never involved in another accident in the next 8 years I owned the car. The colour I chose was a light yellowy green and was easily visible in all conditions.

  39. From a Black Ford 8 circa 1936 Rego S938. to the present the colours have been, Black, ,light Blue, light Green, Grey, Red, Brm Green, Burnt Orange, Yellow, Beige ,Blue , White and White.
    Side swiped in the yellow and blue car, and tail ended in the beige, and twice in the first white, and so far the last and present white car was dinged in the side in a sup/mkt. parking area . I shall be 89 in two weeks time and still have my marbles. take care you learner drivers and live longer.

  40. Probably the highest risk colours from my own observations are the darker shades. Particularly the dark greys. This is most noticeable in twilight hours, or in lowlight rainy situations. You all know that time, when the road markings also seem to disappear. The cars almost vanish against the road surface, the best camouflage ever. For some reason, they also seem to be the cars that are the last to turn their lights on.

  41. I have a two friends who individually report differences in visibility during daylight and night hours. One is metallic silver, the other is dark orange. They are both emphatic that the advantages in daylight are reversed at night – silver hard to see; orange “It just seems to disappear” (quoting my friend). NRMA patrolmen had a similar experience years ago with ORANGE safety clothes. After numerous adverse reports the clothing was changed to YELLOW

  42. I have always had problems with seeing grey and silver cars against bitumen, and wonder why car manufacturers continue to make them. My car a new Kia is blue by choice as I thought it would be clearer for other motorists to see, now your telling me blue is on the risk list. I reckon it’s all in the lap of the gods! Safe driving to all.

  43. For years I’ve noticed this phenomena, and have always made it a practice to drive with low beams on even in the middle of the day.
    There are many driving conditions that make cars nearly disappear, such as shadows, from trees, hills or buildings, and you will always notice that the cars with lights on can always be seen.
    It’s a good practice I can recommend.

  44. I drive a lot early in the morning and late in the afternoon and into the evening. When the light is poor or there is fog or rain I have a hard time seeing grey and silver cars. As much as I believe in freedom of choice I think these colours just shouldn’t be on cars

  45. In the UK its well known that “British Racing Green” is a colour that often cannot be seen and also Grey cars – the only time anyone has hit me is when I was driving a Grey vehicle and the guy that hit me when he was turning left across my road kept saying “I didn’t see you”.

  46. From a biker’s pov, dappled or fading light helps make approaching beige and grey cars/vans particularly difficult to see. Those who drive cars of that colour are also hard to see if they do not turn their lights on in twilight.

    If they could also fit some of the top end cars such as mercs and audis with blinkers that would be terrific.

  47. BMJ: “…concluding that silver cars were 50% less likely than white cars to be involved in a crash resulting in serious injury.”

    MUARC: “None of the colours tested were statistically safer than white…” In the same study, silver is identified as a high risk colour.

    While the notion of colour affecting the risk of having an accident is very plausible, the published results must be taken with a large pinch of salt, if the accuracy of these studies if there are such vast differences in the conclusions.

  48. Well I did consider colour to be seen by an ageing population of drivers. So I picked bright orange. Today however as I approached a cross street a senior drove across without a glance and my bright new car totally ignored on his drivers side! Of course coming down the hill had to avoid him.
    I saw him a few streets later far ahead speeding away. So really being alert and doing the right thing plus a being a bright colour only helps responsible drivers I feel.

  49. I have had a silver Subaru wagon for 25 years and never had an accident after 362,000km. The original bright silver colour faded to a grey colour after a few years. I’m not sure if the colour helped avoid accidents because I have been driving for 56 years without accident and my previous cars were mostly white.

  50. I wonder how the results would look if the results were limited to accidents in 50/60 kmh zones. I think a lot of accidents on the open road are attributable to driver impatience, road condition and other factors not linked to visibility of cars. I could not find the methodology for the survey, but it doesn’t appear to have limited the poulation to those accidents where the colour of the car is considered as a reason (possibe or likely?) for the accident to have occurred. If the population has not been limited in this way, then the study seems to be rather pointless.

    Tom..

  51. Colour is a big factor in visibility, true. However each of us sees differently. While most of our eyes react well to the yellow to white spectrum, some people don’t see them either – ever tried to spot a cockatoo in a gum tree? Not that easy really.
    As for not seeing the other cars in daylight it is easy to miss them (i.e not hit them) by;
    - staying in your lane on your side of the road and keeping your position therein
    - indicating before changing lanes or direction and leaving the indicators on until the maneuver is finished
    - not fiddling with mirrors, phones, stereo systems, beverages, phones and GPS while driving.
    You can also increase your chances of being seen regardless of the colour of your car by;
    - using headlights correctly – from dusk through twilight and until after sunrise
    - use Daytime Running Lights or low set fog lights in the day if fitted (yes it is illegal to use fogies without fog, but if you are using them on county roads and explain you do it to increase visibility a reasonable copper (an oxymoron I know) should ignore the fog lights in daytime
    - use your horn (an emergency device to attract the attention of other road users in dangerous situations) judiciously only in dangerous situations to make the idiot driver ( a member of the sub-species homo moronicus cretinussii) in the other car pay attention to the road he/she is on.
    Oh yeah – all of the above is just part of SAFE DRIVING procedures

    Just remember while driving – you are the minority and the rest of the drivers are the majority. If democracy has shown us one thing it is that the majority are unqualified, untaught, unlearned, delinquent (i.e. failing in duty) idiots.

    PS Keep upright us riders, and you “drivers” – learn to “drive” not just “steer”.

  52. I remember a study done many years ago that determined the safest car colour was yellow. (All cars on the airport were then “Aviation yellow”) And red colours made drivers more aggressive! Earlier comments above seem to confirm it.

  53. ANY road coloured car should have headlights on at ALL TIMES – mandatory – just as motor bikes do.

    Black through to light grey, including silver disappear at certain times of the day, & weather conditions.
    Black & dark greys in particular on dark wet roads.

  54. I suggested to Kia that they should consider not promoting the colour grey in their advertisements. I was surprised to receive a favorable acknowledgement from them.
    Too many car makers have jumped onto the grey band wagon with their advertisements. There is already a plague of difficult to spot grey cars on the roads.
    I find that I am much less likely to notice grey cars in my peripheral vision compared to most other colours.

  55. I don’t see any mention in the article or weighting the stats by numbers of cars on the road. Ie crashes per 100,000 cars of that color. Silver cars would be highly represented in raw crash data because second to white it is a vey common colour. Similarly dark colours have become very popular in recent years so crash data may be skewed by this. However logically dark colours are likely to be less visible in low light conditions.

  56. We only buy white cars, based entirely on their higher visibility. We live at the base of a hill on a busy country road and I have noticed that black, grey and charcoal coloured cars can literally almost disappear against the bitumen when coming down the hill. This is even more pronounced on wet or overcast days.

  57. I looked this up because I’m thinking of buying a new car and wondered about the colour in relation to safety and visibility.

    Today when I was driving around the metropolitan area I looked at other cars to see if any were more visible. Definitely white cars were the most visible for me. I actually found that along with black cars that silver or grey cars were less visible and seemed smaller. I found that others colours like blue or red etc were in the middle.

    This study is looking at the factor of colour in isolation mainly . I think a big factor would be the number of cars of a certain colour. Using an extreme eg to illustrate my point, imagine if all cars on the road were blue and only one was red. Obviously there would be more accidents involving blue cars and the number of accidents involving red cars would be limited to one.

    This is another plus for white cars because I noticed about half the cars on the road are white.

    Obviously the background has an impact and green cars might be a bad choice where there’s a lot of trees. Maybe in this case black cars might be better if there was snow in the background and white might be really bad.

  58. It pleases me to notice car colour being mentioned in an insurance advertisement. From a Youi TV advertisement, “Guy drives a white car”. Grey coloured cars have become over conspicuous in car advertisements. Car makers need to act like they care about the added risk caused by poor visibility colours by not popularizing them.

  59. some info, we are pawns and raw material for profits, I asked the government (UK) to do something about this, they said no thanks, same with Royal Soc for Prevention of Accidents The suing of companies who provide these dark menace colours under health and safety law is the way forward, just one prosecution and they will all scurry into their holes. q.e.d.

  60. More years ago than I care to remember I had a British Racing Green MGB. It was totally invisible. The only way to drive it was to assume that no one had seen you – they were forever pulling out right in front of you. I’ve heard that British Racing Green Minis had exactly the same problem.

  61. I nedInever thought that there would be a relationship between colour of the car and crash risk but it makes sense that at night a black car is harder to see than a white one. I will definitely consider this in future car purchases.

  62. Thanks Kevin,
    I just narrowly missed a light grey car that was almost perfectly camouflaged in WA. Why do we make mine and road workers wear hi viz, and not apply (legislation?) this logic to our roads?
    Rob

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