What is the safest car colour?
One hundred years ago, Henry Ford proudly offered his Model T in any colour – as long as it was black. Thankfully car manufacturers now offer us a bigger range of colours to choose from!
Which raises the question – are some car colours safer than others on the road? And which is the safest?
Shades of safety
The world's largest study of the link between car colour and accidents was carried out right here in Australia. The Accident Research Centre at Melbourne's Monash University crunched the numbers after looking at over 850,000 crashes. They found that car colour does in fact make a big difference to road safety.
We wonder what Mr Ford's reaction would have been to the Monash University scientists' findings: that black is not a wise choice when it comes to avoiding collisions.
Silver, grey, red and black cars are most likely to be involved in accidents, the study decided. White, orange and yellow are the safest colour choices.
The importance of light
The increased danger for black cars was in low-light conditions such as at dawn or dusk, the scientists found, when they were involved in up to 47 per cent more crashes than white vehicles.
Black, silver, grey and red cars were involved not only in more frequent, but also in more severe crashes.
On the positive side, the scientists suggested running headlights might be enough to cancel out the risk associated with any car colour.
Colour and car maintenance
Not only are they linked with more crashes, but darker car colours can also show your car's age more rapidly.
Over time, "the darker the colour, typically the more types of scratches and swirls you will begin to see," says Mike Pennington, director of consumer relations for car care product manufacturer Meguiar's.
The same scratches on a lighter-coloured car are less noticeable, he says.
But regardless of the risk, many people feel there is something special about a black car.
"When you get that black car shined up, there's nothing wetter, deeper or more stunning," Pennington says.
By far the most popular car colour choice in Australia – and around the world – is white.
But when it comes to choosing the safest colour from a resale point of view, yellow is the clear winner, according to a US study of over 20 million used car sales. Cars that are yellow depreciate far more slowly than black cars, the study found.
While car colour does make some difference when it comes to accident statistics, by far the most important factor is safe driving, says Dr Stuart Newstead, the scientist who headed the Monash University research project.
So feel free to choose whatever colour you like best from the huge range of options available today. And keep your lights on in low-light conditions.