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What Is The Safest Car Color?


What Is The Safest Car Color?

Scooter Davis
27 January 2013


If you had to guess what the best color car is for safety, what would you choose? Of course the National Safety Council has published some guidelines, but using your own intuition, what do you say? Red, yellow, gray, or multi colored, the shade of your car makes a difference under various circumstances.

The Safety Council plays it fairly safe by stating that the best color for any vehicle is one that is the most visible during the widest spectrum of conditions. This means that in fog, bright colors might be better, if the sun is glaring, a silver car might reflect a glint of light better, and depending on your own eyes, depth perception, and state of alertness, color , as we have all experienced, makes a measurable difference. Nothing new. So, is there a clear answer? To back this up, National Highway Safety studies show mixed results regarding color. A University of California research lab concluded that perception is actually different when viewing distant blue or yellow vehicles. Gray automobiles are perceived as more distant that they actually are. These perceptions are important for obvious reasons including safety, judgement, and personal preference.

It is well known that the color, red, often creates a reaction of aggression or excitement. White, is easier to see, especially when positioned on a darker background. Some of the darker colors are perceived with a very low score because they are less noticeable at a glance. One group of researches found that the most accidents resulting in injuries occurred in brown, black, and dark green vehicles.

With all this funding, and data gathering, one would assume a difinitive answer would emerge. But, like so many other studies involving variables, no such answer has been forthcoming. The data cleary shows that there is not a car color that is safest under most conditions. As frustrating as this is to those looking for a quick and easy solution, it makes sense that one color does not fit all applications.

Each study considers variables such as weather conditions, obvious obstructions, driver alertness, time of day, and geography. At least one surpirse that comes from this work states that red is a color seen least by human side, or, peripheral, vision. Factoring in such anomalies and the conclusion is that color makes a difference, but exactly what difference, is hard to tell. Enjoy your car color and play it safe using common sense and good driving habits. Do your own observational study. What colors catch your attention under what circumstances? This simple exercise will help you stay alert.


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