Car Color & Crash Risk

When buying or leasing a new car, you probably put a lot of thought into the safety rating, features, gas mileage, price, and style. One thing you may not give much thought to beyond the aesthetic is the color of the car you choose. According to several studies, that may be a mistake. 

77% of cars in North America are either white, black, silver, or grey but these cars have very different levels of risk based on color alone.

Research shows that a car’s color is associated with its crash risk. That means driving a car of a certain color may actually put you at a higher risk of a crash! Our Baltimore car accident lawyer is here to help you.

Most Dangerous Car Colors

View of the front of the cars parked in a row in the city Parking lot.

You may have heard that red cars are more likely to get pulled over, but did you know that some car colors are more likely to be involved in an accident? The following car colors have a higher crash risk. 

Black Cars

In a few studies, black cars have been singled out as having the highest accident rate than cars of any other color. 

A 20-year study by Monash University in Australia found that black cars are up to 47% more likely to be involved in a crash. During the daytime, black cars were just 12% more likely to be involved in an accident than white vehicles but the number rose to 47% at dusk and dawn. 

NRMA Insurance, meanwhile, reported in 2004 that dark-colored cars were 22% more likely to be involved in crashes and claims paid out for accidents involving dark cars were 30% more expensive than the average claim. That means the accidents were probably more serious.

The reason? Black vehicles don’t stand out very well against black roadways. At night, they’re even harder for other drivers to see. 

Grey Cars

While grey cars aren’t considered as dangerous as black cars, they still have a noticeably higher risk than other car colors. When you drive a grey car, you have an 11 percent higher risk of being involved in an accident no matter the time of day. 

Grey cars have a higher crash risk for the same reason as black cars: they blend into their surroundings. Grey cars are also harder to see when it’s foggy or raining. 

Silver Cars

Silver cars, along with grey, black, and white, dominate the market in the United States. Similar to grey cars, silver cars have a crash rate about 10% higher than other car colors because they blend into surroundings and can be hard to see in rain and fog. 

However, some research does indicate silver cars may actually be safer, not more dangerous. One study found the risk of serious injury is about 50% lower in silver cars compared with white cars. 

Green Cars

Green vehicles aren’t very common today as they have fallen out of favor but green was one of the most popular car colors in the 1990s. Today, green is less popular than neutral colors, blue, red, and even brown: just 1.3% of cars sold at CarMax in one recent year were green. 

Green cars aren’t very popular but they also aren’t very safe. Green tends to blend into the background of suburban and rural settings with a slightly higher crash risk than white and yellow cars. However, it does stand out in city settings which may be why it’s not as high on the list of dangerous colors as black and grey. 

Safest Car Color Choices

Want to reduce the risk of being hit in a collision? Choosing the right car color when you buy or lease may help, at least somewhat. As a general rule, the safest colors are those that are easy for other drivers to see with good contrast against the road and buildings. 

White Cars

Overwhelmingly, white is considered the safest car color with the lowest risk of being struck. According to one study, white cars are 12% less likely to be in a crash than black cars, even during the day. 

It may seem counterintuitive that white cars stand out so well to other drivers — after all, white is the most popular car color in the U.S. and should blend in with other cars — but it seems to offer the most contrast during the day and night. 

Yellow Cars

Yellow, like white, tends to be easy to notice on the road. It helps that yellow is the color of school buses which means drivers may psychologically associate the color yellow with caution. Yellow cars are less likely than most other colors to get into accidents. 

Red Cars

There are many myths about red cars including that they get more speeding tickets or they’re just for drivers who want attention. The truth? The color red may reduce your risk of being hit by another driver on the road. 

Red cars aren’t considered the safest as they have a higher crash risk than white and yellow cars. However, red vehicles are less likely to be hit than grey and black cars. Studies show that there’s not much of a difference between the crash risk of red and blue vehicles.

A red car may lower the risk of a crash because the color is associated with danger, stop signs, and emergency vehicles. 

Orange Cars

You don’t see too many orange vehicles on dealership lots but maybe you should. While many people avoid the color orange in part because of the perceived lower resale value of an orange car, orange cars tend to get into fewer accidents than other colors even after accounting for their low market share. 

The visibility and bright color of orange vehicles likely play a role in avoiding accidents.

Good luck finding an orange car on the lot without a special order from the dealer, though! Orange cars made up just 0.5% of cars sold at CarMax in 2019.

Don’t Consider Car Color a Safety Feature

The color of your car may influence crash risk to a degree. However, it’s not necessary to choose or avoid certain colors just in the name of safety. Even the researchers who documented the relationship between car color and crash risk warn that it’s nowhere near as important as driving behavior. The most important thing you can do to be safe on the road is practice defensive driving techniques. 

Many factors can contribute to car accidents in Baltimore including: 

  • Distracted driving such as texting, talking on the phone, or eating while driving which is a factor in 9% of fatal crashes
  • Speeding is a factor in 26% of traffic fatalities. When you are speeding or driving too fast for road conditions, your reaction time is reduced. Speeding also makes it easier to lose control of your vehicle and increases the severity of injuries in an accident. 
  • Driving under the influence. Drunk driving alone kills over 10,000 people in the United States every year.
  • Inclement weather. In Maryland, rain, snow, and fog can all make roads dangerous and impair vision. Rain is the most dangerous type of inclement weather because it also makes roads slick with oil. 
  • Traffic which can contribute to everything from fender benders to serious pile-ups.
  • Fatigued driving. Research indicates that drowsy driving can be more dangerous than driving under the influence. About 100,000 accidents and 44,000 injuries every year involve drowsy driving. 

Your car’s color doesn’t mean you’ll avoid an accident, but it can reduce the likelihood that you’ll be hit by another driver when you’re driving safely. 

Headlights were able to almost erase the link between a car’s color and crash risk. Daytime running lights mean that the benefit you would get from a noticeable car color like yellow is even lower. 

Daytime running lights or your headlights are recommended whenever you’re driving, regardless of weather or time of day. Studies show that daytime running lights reduce the risk of multi-vehicle accidents during the day by 5-10%

During inclement daytime weather conditions, including rain and fog, headlights or daytime running lights are even more crucial for reducing your crash risk by making sure your car is easy to see for other drivers. Some states such as Ohio even require headlights to be turned on whenever a driver uses their wipers.

Contact Our Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers to Learn More About Car Color and Crash Risk

The bottom line is car color is only one of many factors that may cause an accident. If you have been involved in a car accident in Maryland, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to begin investigating your crash. 

At William G. Kolodner P.A., we will leave no stone unturned to uncover the many factors that influenced your accident to determine who is at fault and seek full compensation for your injuries. After identifying the responsible parties, we will fight for the compensation you need as you recover and try to move on with your life. 

Contact William G. Kolodner P.A. today; your initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer is always free.