I have found that all studies available in Australia related to determining which car colour is safest are seriously flawed. I confirmed this after discussing the point with an author of the most comprehensive university study performed in our country. The simple problem is that light coloured cars that are passively involved in a multi-vehicle accident due to their not seeing the darker coloured vehicle, are included in the accident statistics. In this way, most of the crashes recorded by police as ‘due to inattention’ of the light coloured car, should really have been deemed the result of the other vehicle ‘failing to make vehicle conspicuous’. The statistics are always going to play down the danger of camouflagd cars while passively involved vehicles are included in the statistics. BTW, I find it incredible that hi-visibility clothing is manditory on worksites in Australia, but the worker is able to drive home in a perfectly colour-matched dirty grey car afterwards…
Mikeman, Why Worry So Much About It? What Is Your Question?
Make sure you select what you think are the safer colours and watch out for those guys in “camoflaged” vehicles. Personally, I use more than colour when spotting other traffic. I use shape. I look for objects that are moving, shaped like cars, trucks, motorcycles, pedestrians, animals, etcetera. I also use light, either the absense of it or extra light. I look for shadow areas, taillights, brake lights, headlights, etcetera. I also use direction, focusing most of my attention to the roadway in front and some to the sides and rear.
I always drive white vehicles because the look cleaner and stay cooler in my opinion. They are quite visible day and night in my opinion (for half the year). Where I live in the States we have snow covering the ground and often the roads for the other half of the year. Then I’m guessing that white is no the hot set-up. I don’t have a “winter colour car” so I just live with it.
Why are you so concerned or are you just fascinated by the study? Are you angry because the light-coloured cars are not getting the respect they deserve? Are you advocating for mandatory safe colours? What’s motivating you?
What is your question?
OK, that’s it! Henceforth all dark colored vehicles shall be illegal, and anyone “failing to make his vehicle conspicuous” shall be subject to a fine. I decree it.
And no more dirty grey cars, either.
Now there won’t be any more crashes. See how simple that was?
And can I assume that you’re a credentialed statistician who has studied the study methodologies and applied validated statistical theories to your analysis?
Does not the data actually emphasize the danger of camoflaged cars rather than play it down as you suggested?
May I ask who the “author” is and his/her publication on the subject? I’d like to learn more.
Years ago when orange cars were popular, Mercedes did a detailed visibility study and found that bright orange was the most visible color. A friend of mine bought a bright orange Nissan after reading the study. Six months later he collided with—another BRIGHT ORANGE car. The collison was not his fault, but it proves that driver training and careful driving avoids accidents.
I agree. I believe color is a factor, but there are much more important factors, like driver training, attention, functioning lights, tailgating, lack of traffic enforcement, etc.
A red or orange car might be safer (slightly), but good luck maintaining the paint job in a sunny climate. In my opinion, it isn’t worth the extra work.
Wooaah… Easy guys. I’m pointing out a fact. There are always exceptions to observations. I’m not interested in points that undermine my argument just making the point that the public are possibly underplaying the danger of cars painted to blend in. If you’re in areas with snow then white is probably not ideal half the year however I see snow maybe twice a year so the grey road is the main background.
There are always going to be examples where two bright cars collide but one of the drivers may have been distracted and the colour would have been irrelevant.
All I am saying is that I and other friends of mine are too often ‘spooked’ by dark coloured cars that are not sensed in our peripheral vision and hence we don’t even look for them at intersections etc.
Has anyone researched the number of accidents where one car didn’t ‘see’ the other? Motorcyclists are often accused of being invisible in accidents with the driver excuse ‘I didn’t see you’ being all to common. Why wouldn’t a grey car be any different?
For those interested, the study I’m referring to was carried out by Dr Stuart Newstead of the Monash Accident Research Unit. He admitted that the police reports contained insufficient information to attribute the true cause of the accident in order to reduce the passive involvement of lighter (or contrasting for the snowy areas) coloured cars. He was very interested if I sourced the relevant info.
I’m interested in anyone out there who knows of studies that take this into account - I haven’t found any on the 'net…
What would be the public attitude to car colours if a revised study found that 50% of accidents involving two or more cars included a inconspicuous party? Would anyone buy a grey car then? I’d say no. All I’m asking is that perhaps you guys have links to information which could support that train of thought - nothing more nothing less.
In Australia you have to wear fluorescent clohing on a worksite, emergency vehicles are brightly painted, central road markings are white, guide-posts are white all to contrast with the road. So why do they sell cars that blend into the road? It is madness. (IMHO of course)
I’m all in favor of having fluorescent stripes legislated on my car. Commercial vehicles have lots of lights and reflectors to avoid cars driving into them. We have 2 cars, silver grey and dark blue metallic. The safety of the colors played no role in our selection, although my wife wants her next car to be very bright red!!
Having said all this, I’m in favor of reflective markers more than legislating car colors.
Grey Cars Are Maybe Not An Ideal Choice. Transparent Cars Would Be “Madness.”
I have never hit a grey car or any other color car in hundreds of thousands of miles of driving over several decades. I don’t ever recall saying “Wow Mate, I almost hit that bloke because I never saw his grey car!”
How many drivers involved in the accidents are colour-blind, according to the research you have seen? Would this change the outcome?
Here in the States almost all fire trucks were painted bright red (fire engine red) for decades. A few decades ago research showed that red was not very visible at night. Now almost all of them are “Safety Yellow” (yellow-green) in colour.
Link to Fire Truck Colours Article
Mikeman, there’s a lot of research to back up what you say. I remember studies from the 1970s that said lighter colored vehicles were more easily seen, even in weather conditions such as fog, rain, and snow.
Certain colors blend into the background, it’s true, but it also depends on the background. The first time I noticed this was when a friend of mine bought one of the original Honda Accords, the 3-door hatchback. The car was silver (grey), a light color.
One day I noticed my friend’s car coming toward me on the road, and the car seemed to blend into the pavement. It almost disappeared, briefly, but it really made an impression on me.
I currently own a silver (grey) car, and I ALWAYS turn the headlights on when I’m driving it, because I’ve seen how a silver car can disappear against the road. I bought this car (used) because it was a good deal, not because it was grey. I wanted a light color, and would have accepted other light colors, but I don’t buy dark colored vehicles.
The company I work for insists that we turn on the headlights whenever we drive a company vehicle. They know it makes the vehicle more visible, regardless of its color.
Flourescent colors are required on American worksites, too, and American emergency vehicles are awash with bright lights and reflective graphics. You can’t miss them.
All of this has nothing to do with car sales. People want what they want, and they won’t buy (or will be very reluctant to buy) a car in a color they don’t want. This is human nature. Some people like black cars. Some people like white cars. Many people like something in between.
If all cars were flourescent orange, or green, with flashing lights mounted on their roofs, drivers would still crash into each other, because drivers are people, and people are stupid.
You can’t beat stupidity.
Numerous studies have been done ove the years, some of which I’ve read, on this issue especially as pursuant to pubic “first responder” safety vehicles like firetrucks. The results were that lime green is the most visble color when all lighting conditions are considered.
I’ve also read a technical report on why infrared night vision systems in the military are presented as green images. It turns out that the human eye is most sensitive to green in low light presentation.
Excellent post. I too drive a silver car and I too always drive with my lights on at all times and in all weather.
There are studies on accident rates with lights on also. The difference is dramatic. The study I read about some years back was done in another country after they passed a law requiring the use of headlights at all times. I’m sure an internet search would turn up scads of data.
Personally, I’d like to see the feds mandate that all cars have their headlight circuits connected directly to the ignition switch such that whenever the key is “on” the lights are on.
One Of Many Features I Really Like About My Car Is The DRLs.
I never turn my lights on or off, never touch them. When it’s light enough outside, the high beams are on (at reduced power as I understand it). When it becomes dark out or very cloudy or visibility drops, all the lights come on, exterior lights and interior instrument lights. When you shut the car off the lights turn off automatically after a variable delay or by using the remote to lock. I will definitely have to have this feature on any cars I purchase in the future. My son’s car does the same thing and I feel good that he has this added amount of safety.
Don’t know how helpful his will be, but try this link:
Coming in late…I’m sure it’s been said. But, my theory is that the safety of cars relative to their color has more to do with the type of driver that chose the color. Conservative color-conservative driver…
Having been a basketball referee for many years, I know that grey is now the preferred color of choice for their uniforms as well. Studies show that the inconspicuous non threatening nature of grey does less to raise the ire of those around them.
And as a corollary to this theory…
I would definitely say that people who prefer dark cars, especially black ones,
have distinct flaws in their personality that leads to unsafe driving habits.
Look at Batman.
Or maybe not…
Motorcyclists are often accused of being invisible in accidents with the driver excuse ‘I didn’t see you’ being all to(o) common.
That’s why it’s legal for motorcyclists to ride with their high-beam headlights on during the day.