Safest car colors

Would you avoid an emerald green Subaru Outback, noting that the bottom half of the car is silver (like most Outbacks the car is two-toned). Would you stick only with a white or silver car to be seen at night?

Although I am probably more safety-obsessed than the average person, this is just not something that I think that you should worry about. I recall many years ago that some studies had concluded that orange was the safest color for cars. However, I do not want to drive an orange car.

At night, since you will be driving with your headlights, tail lights, and side marker lights illuminated, I am not really sure how much difference the color of the car would make in terms of someone seeing your car. Perhaps a parked car with no lights illuminated might be more visible if it is white or silver, but–Aren’t the lights of a car visible long before the actual body of the car is able to be seen at night?

I would not worry about the color of the car, if I were you.

I’ve never up to now, and used to drive a maroon volvo and never had an accident over many years. But studies have shown the silver cars, followed by white and several other colors, tend to be involved in significantly less accidents. Dark colors and earth tones like brown tend to be in far more. So apparently it matters, I just don’t know how much. I always thought you’d see lights before a light color as well.

Never discount the possibility that many of those darker colored cars that had accidents were being driven without lights. Almost every time that I drive at night, I see some vehicles being driven without lights.

And, during the daytime, despite the fact that state law in my state and adjoining states mandates the use of headlights when driving in the rain, I frequently see vehicles being driven without lights while it is raining. While the vast majority of these un-illuminated vehicles are SUVs and pickup trucks, it is obvious that a dark color car that is driven without lights–whether in daytime rain conditions or at night–will be harder to see.

Just be sure to drive with your lights on, and you should not wind up as a statistic.

Don’t forget the dynamics of ‘it takes two to tango’. Red cars tend to have the highest insurance rates because it is the color that attracts the young and ‘wanna drive fast’ crowd that gets into more high-speed and costly accidents. I, myself, am a defensive driver, and have always driven dark colored cars without having been in an accident for more than 20 years. That says a lot for living in Atlanta.

I am going to disagree. Silver and white are the absolute worst cars to see especially in fog and snow. The blend in with the surroundings so well as to make them invisible, lights on or not. Any other color is better including black, red, green, blue, etc. And as far as I know there are now insurance ratings for the color of the car only the type of car. Red is rumored to get more speeding tickets though because it seems to stand out more. IMHO anyway but I’m serious about white and silver (light gray).

If you want to be draw attention go with yellow. Studies show it creates the largest reaction in humans and in many other species as well. Yellow is the universal color of nature that says “Look out!”. School buses are painted yellow for a reason.

However, almost no one wants to drive a yellow car. So in that case I’d opt for something besides silver or black which tend to blend in too much on the highway and around town. Most people dismiss colors, but having been a motorcycle rider for a significant amount of time I know how much colors can affect perception. Put a guy on a black bike, with a black helmet and outfit on the road, and put a guy on a bright red bike with an orange helmet and the reaction is much different. When I went from a dark helmet to a bright orange helmet people in city traffic noticed me more, kept a farther distance and were more careful in general. I feel like I just didn’t show up in the corners of people’s eyes until I put the bright colors on.

First let me state that I don’t like white as a car color. Second, I agree that white and silver blend in in a fog, snow or on a light-colored road surface. Third, I posted this because I’m in the market for a car after not having needed one for a few years. I’ve driven consistently throughout (almost 20 years total) with no accidents. I came across these links and excerpts below and was curious to see what people have to say. Note the stats on the colors. They are pretty much consistent.

“study of 31,000 crashes in Sweden1 found that black cars were involved in 22.5% of the crashes even though black cars made up only 4.4% of the vehicle population. This means that black cars were 5 times more likely to crash.”
“Daimler-Benz undertook research (before flourescent paints were used) that concluded that white was the easiest colour to be seen. White rated 86% in their tests while black, dark red and dark blue rated 4%.”

"The visibility of cars depends on the weather, road conditions the landscape and the time of day. Generally bright and brilliant colours are much better than dark colours because they reflect a lot more light and can be seen from up to four times the distance of vehicles painted a dark colour. The US National Safety Council defined the safest colour as “one that is highly visible in the widest range of lighting, weather and vision conditions"2 The Safety Council noted that white is the most visible colour in uniform lighting, but it has low visibility on a light coloured road in bright sunlight and in snow and fog.”

“A University of California study3 found that the colour of an approaching car influences the driver?s judgement about how far away it is. Blue and yellow made distant objects seem closest. The grey shades made objects seem further away.”

The above were from:

"A team of New Zealand epidemiologists has recently published a two-year study of crash data compiled in their homeland, and the results say occupants of silver cars are less likely to be involved in injury accidents than those riding in cars of another color. And while they seem steadfast that the results of the study are accurate, the most vexing thing is they can’t figure out why.

Before you cry out, “People who buy silver cars must be safer drivers than those who buy red or purple cars!” you should know that the researchers made every effort to screen for anything that might skew survey results. Thus the results were adjusted for age, sex, alcohol level (three of our favorite adjustment factors), education, use of drugs, seatbelt use, driver’s license status, and even the average time spent behind the wheel. In addition to the human factors, the study also tried to screen out vehicle-related factors like age, engine size, and condition. And, finally, the research team tried to eliminate other wild cards such as weather, road conditions, and light variables (daylight, dusk, and nighttime.)

silver carWhen all this was fed into the giant analysis computer, the British Medical Journal reported, silver cars were 60 percent less likely to be involved in a serious injury than the control group–white cars. Even when the adjustments for confounding variables were removed from the data, silver cars were still 50 percent less likely to be involved in a serious injury accident than white.

If silver is safest, what are the least safe? Dark earth tones. Brown vehicles were 110 percent more likely to be involved in an injury accident than white cars, when the adjustment factors were taken into account. Black was almost equally bad at 100 percent more likely and green cars were 80 percent more likely.

So if dark colors are unsafe, you might figure that bright colors like yellow and red would be safer because they are more likely to be seen. Well, yes and no. On unadjusted bases, both red and yellow vehicles were viewed as much more likely to be involved in injury accidents, but when adjusted for all the other variables, they actually registered as being safer than the control color of white."

This was from

There’s more but they pretty much say the same things.

The safest color is the one you personally prefer. If I hated white but bought one because I thought it was safe, I’d be one PO’d and disillusioned driver day in and day out…not safe.

This is absurd. You have found the car you wanted and at a great price. Emerald green and silver is a very attractive combination. You would turn it down because of night visibilty?! Don’t you use headlights and taillights? I have nothing more to say; I am still shaking my head in amazement.

Some folks are a little more paranoid than others, but I’m just amazed they’re not shopping Volvos only. I’d worry about crash ratings before car color.

Studies correlating car color with accident rates must be taken with a grain of salt. Driver personality is a big determinant in both car color selection AND driving style (and therefore, likelihood of having a collision).

LOL you guys have to relax. Geeesh. I’m former elite airborne soldier and Special Forces instructor with combat experience - I’ve taken more risks in a short time than most people will take in a lifetime. Scuba diver, skier, backpacker, kayaker, etc. too. I was also an ER volunteer in HS and saw tons of accident victims and learned a lot about the nature of their accidents (never looked into color, only cared about crash safety). I asked this question out of curiosity more than anything else. The colors I like are not the most popular and not the brightest and I’d be reluctant to drive a car in a color I hated. But I’m fine with a few colors, not just one. BTW, re crash safety, I’m picking up a Subaru. The look grows on you, but you think I’m picking it up for fashion? Safety and reliability, safety and reliability.

BTW, when I bike or run on or near roads, I ALWAYS wear safety neon yellow somewhere - a jacket, a sash, whatever. I just wouldn’t drive a yellow car.

Do you like the car otherwise? My current truck is Ford color “Metallic Jalape?o Green”. I wasn’t crazy about it at first, but it grew on me. I think that color is probably the least of your worries. If it is a factor at all I would like to see what cars are most likely to be painted what colors.

FYI the studies above controlled for factors outside of color.

White really is best. You really don’t want dark gray. You can see a white car even with snow as a background. Sand on the road helps you see the car too.

One would think white would be the worse, but in the only test I have seen (something like 30 years ago) white was the winner in fog as well. It seems counter intuitive, but in controlled test it came out on top. Not many silver cars back then so they were not tested as I recall)

I think red is the safest color. Back in the 1970s some cities experimented with flourescent yellow fire trucks, thinking they might be easier to see than red. Studies indicated they were better off painting them red. We have all been trained to associate red with stopping.

If you like green, get the green car. When it comes to safety, I believe how you drive is more important than what you drive.

Driver personality type is NOT mentioned as one of the variables controlled for, nor would this be easy to do. Imagine trying to do personality testing on drivers involved in collisions!

Actually, I read a recent study that was pushing for a return to yellow/neon green for firetrucks, stating that the red causes people to temporarily freeze up (as you mentioned, we’ve been trained to associate red with stopping) and people were found to move out of the way faster for the yellow/neon green trucks than the reds. I can’t remember where it is that they use the yellow/neon green, but it is being used out there.

Perhaps this is an example of how studies can be flawed, or proved, and then later unproven. :slight_smile:

Agree with Jeremy, buy the colour you like and drive appropriately, with your lights on when they should be on (not just at night!! Pet peeve of mine).