According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the relationship between car color and safety is complex. This is because a car’s environment (trees, desert, etc.), weather conditions (rain, fog, snow), and the level of daylight have a profound effect on its visibility to other drivers. Additionally, research has shown that colors can create moods or conditions that can cause fatigue, increase stress, decrease visual perception, and negatively affect orientation and safety.
Past research has suggested that white or lighter colored cars are less likely to be involved in a car crash than cars of other colors. To explore this further, a group of researchers set out to determine the effect of a car’s color on the driver’s risk of serious injury. The results of their study were published in the December 20-27 issue of BMJ . The researchers found that people who drove lighter colored cars (silver or white) were less likely to be involved in a serious accident than people who drove darker colored cars (brown, black, or green),
About the study
Researchers in the Aukland region of New Zealand examined a population of 1159 drivers on public (rural and urban) roads over the course of approximately one year. This population was divided into a case group and a control group. The case group consisted of 571 drivers who had all been involved in car crashes in which one or more of the occupants of the car was seriously injured (either admitted to the hospital or died). The control group consisted of 588 drivers randomly selected at different sites and times from the same stretches of road. After controlling for a number of variables, including the age of the driver, seat belt use, vehicle age, and road conditions, the researchers compared the colors of the cars in the case group with those in the control group.
The researchers found that people who drove silver cars were 50% less likely to be involved in a serious accident than people who drove white cars. They also found that drivers of brown cars had a significantly increased risk of serious injury than drivers of black or green cars. The risk of a serious injury in drivers of yellow, grey, red, and blue cars was not significantly different from those who drove white cars.
How does this affect you?
According to the results of the study, silver cars are significantly less likely to be involved in a crash resulting in serious injury compared to cars of other colors. This is important when you consider that approximately 3,000 people around the world are killed in car accidents each day. And while there are doubtless many factors involved in this statistic beyond the color of the car, the researchers suggest that increasing the number of silver cars on the road could be an effective strategy for reducing the burden of injury from car crashes.
Of course, if your heart is set on that little red Corvette or a glossy black luxury car, the findings of this study are unlikely to change your mind. And, no one is suggesting you should trade in a perfectly good blue car for a silver model. However, if you’re in the market for a new car, you may want to consider the safety of silver.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Furness S, Connor J, Robinson E, et al. Car colour and risk of car crash injury: population based case control study. BMJ . 2003;327:1455-1456.
Last reviewed Dec 24, 2003 by
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