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What is The Safest Colour for your Vehicle?

Over the years there has been much discussion about what might be the safest color for a car, in terms of being conspicuous to other motorists, and thereby preventing a collision.  Much of the information accumulated over time is anecdotal.  One study stands out.  The Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) in Melbourne, Australia reportedly analysed 850,000 Australian collisions occurring between 1982 and 2004.

The Study Results

The winning color in the MUARC study was white, regardless of time of day or weather.  From there the risk of crash escalated with grey, silver, red and blue.  The worst bet was black with a 12% higher number of crashes than white.

In the MUARC study, black was also particularly bad in twilight conditions. Reportedly, it resulted in a 47% higher risk than white.

During the time frame of the Australian study, white was a popular color with motorists with, it appears, perhaps 40% of the vehicles operating in the two Australian states under study painted white.

Other Aspects

Studies of this nature have to consider, and potentially explain, age-related preferences, such as white cars appealing to cautious people, and red cars being purchased by younger drivers with, maybe, a dramatic flair in their driving style.  Weather as a factor is also a concern when transferring study results from a generally sunny country such as Australia, to Canada with its winter climatic conditions that often restrict visibility.

A less in depth study of this topic was done in another sunny country, New Zealand, not long ago, providing a different but somewhat consistent result.  Silver was the safety winner.  The authors of the study seem to have been at a loss to fully explain why silver does well, especially in misty conditions, but statistics are statistics.

More Stats for Car Colors

The results of the forgoing studies support the decisions of close to 40% car buyers in North America, in terms of safety.  A report by a major American paint manufacturer from October 2011, put the popularity of automobile colors as: white (20%); silver (19%).

The other color categories, for new vehicles, and said to be less safe, were: black (18%); gray (15%); naturals (tans, golds, browns, oranges and yellows – 7%); green (2%); hard to categorize colors (19%).

The question then arises:  does the insurance company care about the color of the vehicle and rate your insurance accordingly?  The answer is no.  It appears that insurance underwriters worldwide have never factored car color into the basic variables they work with.  You can buy a bright red car, which presumably reliable studies suggest will more likely be involved in a crash than a white model of the same vehicle, and pay the same rate.

What interests the insurance people who assess risk are the classic factors of age; training and driving history of the motorist; and the power; style and purpose of the vehicle under consideration.  If you are buying a high performance sports car, the underwriters are nervous and your rates will be relatively high, whether the vehicle is black or white.

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