What is the Safest Car Color?
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What is the Safest Car Color?

By Autolist Editorial | August 7, 2019

Many drivers believe the color of their car impacts their safety, and some studies suggest this may be true. Although the relationship between vehicle color and vehicle safety is complex and uncertain, it's worth learning all there is to know about the subject before you buy a new vehicle.

The Safest Car Colors

In 2007, the Monash University Accident Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia released a report on car accident rates by car color. The report claimed that white is the safest color for a vehicle and black the most dangerous. No one is certain why white cars are safest, but one reason may be that white-colored cars stand out better in poor light conditions, making them easier to avoid. White vehicles also stand out against the black surfaces of roads and the bright colors of forests and cities. According to the Monash report, white vehicles are 12 percent less likely to get in accidents than black vehicles. Gold is considered to be another safe color choice. In addition to standing out due to its brightness in daylight hours, gold cars reflect light at night. However, headlights can cast gold light during rainfall, potentially dazzling drivers.

Yellow cars are also reasonably safe. They're bright enough to see at any time of day and in rain, fog or snow. Taxi cabs in the U.S. are yellow for this reason. Lime green, in particular, is a very safe color because few objects have it, ensuring it stands out anywhere, and because it contrasts with fog, snow and cloudy skies better than white. Orange is another safe color, though many automakers don't offer it. The only environments where orange might not stand out are deserts with orange sand or dirt, such as the Australian Outback. Pink is another safe color due to its vibrancy.

Cream and beige cars are also reasonably safe, though they can blend in with dirt and buildings, and they're harder to spot in the rain than other colors. Cream, especially, is easy to spot at night, and gray and silver are moderately safe colors. Silver stands out well at night, but it also blends in with the rain. For that reason, gray is also considered a little less safe than a lighter silver.

The Most Dangerous Car Colors

Although it's one of the most popular car colors, black is the most dangerous car color of all. That's because black cars are very hard to see at night, and they blend in with the black surfaces of most roads. Blue cars are among the most dangerous as well. In addition to being difficult to spot in low light conditions, blue vehicles blend in with the daytime sky and are hard to differentiate from black roads. Dark blue cars often look black at night.

While red cars are vibrant, they aren't considered particularly safe as car colors go. Red may stand out in the rain, fog and snow, but it's not bright enough to pop at night like white, yellow, cream or orange. They can also blend in with signs, traffic lights, brake lights and sirens. Another moderately unsafe color is green. Green cars stand out against dark roads, but they blend in with grass, trees, fences, bus stops, traffic lights and many other environments. A green car next to large open green spaces makes them hard to distinguish from surrounding hills, for example.

How Car Color Influences Other Hazards

Crash risk isn't the only safety factor that car colors influence. Theft is another. Car thieves like to steal vehicles sporting popular colors because these cars have higher resale values. The two most popular car colors in the U.S. are silver and white, with well over a third of vehicles sporting one of these colors. Other top-selling car colors include black, medium dark blue, medium dark gray, medium dark green, light green and bright red. Blue and silver cars are among the most likely to be stolen, according to a 2010 research report from Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Statistically, car thieves also like to steal black, grey, white, cream, yellow, beige and red vehicles, and they tend to steer clear of brown, green, orange and yellow vehicles. Yellow cars are the least popular among car thieves due to their low resale value and conspicuous appearances.

Although research for the subject is scarce, car color also appears to influence a car's internal temperature. Lighter-colored cars stay somewhat more cool to drive in hot climates because they don't absorb as much sunlight. White cars are the coolest of all, while black cars are the warmest. There is a popular theory that the color of your car also influences your likelihood of being stopped for speeding, with red cars attracting the most tickets. However, evidence for this claim is hard to find.

Another big myth about car colors is that they influence car insurance premiums. Although insurance companies care about the make and model of any car they underwrite, they don't judge the car's owner based on car color, as many people fear. Contrary to popular belief, for example, owners of red cars don't have higher insurance premiums than other owners.

Further Considerations

The color of your car isn't just important for safety and comfort. When it comes to scratches and scuff marks, for example, darker cars take the most work to keep clean, as blemishes stand out more clearly on their surfaces. White, silver and gray cars can keep a clean look longer than black or red cars. When deciding on your car color, keep in mind that popular colors are easier to resell, partly because customers believe their opportunities for reselling them down the road are higher, leading to a feedback loop. White, gray and silver cars may have higher resale values because they age better as well.

All in all, the safest car color is probably white when it comes to avoiding accidents, though white cars are also among the most frequently stolen. Every color has benefits and drawbacks depending on where you drive your vehicle, so your best bet is to pick one that's right for your environment.