What Is the Safest Car Color?

What Is the Safest Car Color?

We’ve all heard stories of drivers saying they were targeted by police for driving a red sports car, or that their black pickup truck is more expensive to insure. People are quick to assume one hue is the safest car color above all others to avoid increased scrutiny or extra insurance costs. It gets your hackles up, whether the anecdotes are founded in truth or fiction.

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Let’s be clear here: There’s no basis to claims that certain colors cost more to insure, but certain colors are statistically more likely to get into an accident than others, and theft rates also tend to correlate to color as well.

So, then, what color car is the safest (at least statistically)?

What car color is the safest?

Research into the safest car color isn’t in overwhelming supply online. However, a study from Monash University in 2007 found that, in general, light colors tend to get into fewer accidents than darker colors.

The safest car colors

The safest car colors tend to be light shades or hues that make them highly visible. It makes sense. If you drive a mid-shade gray sedan or a brown or charcoal SUV, there’s a greater chance you’ll blend in with your surroundings when you’re driving. But if your vehicle is bright, it’s like a billboard that screams, “Here I am! Don’t hit me!” to other motorists.

  • White cars get into the fewest accidents, according to the Monash research.
  • Yellow cars are virtually in a neck-and-neck photo finish for low accident rates.
  • Gold cars have a roughly 1% higher accident rate than white cars.
  • Brown vehicles experience approximately 3% more accidents.
  • Green vehicles see roughly 4% higher accident rates than white cars.

The most dangerous car colors

Like the safest car colors, there are other hues that tend to get into more than their fair share of fender-benders. While it doesn’t seem fair, the best car color in your opinion might not necessarily be the safest, according to the data.

  • Compared to white cars, blue vehicles tend to be in a slightly higher rate of accidents by 5%.
  • Black cars are 6% more likely to be in an accident than white cars.
  • Red cars aren’t as safe as you might think, accounting for an 8% higher risk of a collision.
  • Silver vehicles are at a 10% higher risk of being in an accident.
  • Gray cars also have a 10% higher possibility of an accident.

Other oddball colors from carmakers—purple and pink, for example—tend to have high rates of accidents, too.

What’s the best car color to avoid theft?

Safety is a consideration, even when your car is parked and you aren’t in it. Color plays a factor in which vehicles thieves try to get their sticky fingers into. According to a study done by CCC Industry Solutions, the top-five most stolen car colors are:

  1. Silver
  2. White
  3. Black
  4. Gold
  5. Green

Forget about what movies like “Gone in 60 Seconds” teach you about chop shops and overseas car theft rings. Most car thieves tend to gravitate toward colors that won’t draw unwanted attention. It’s much easier to fly under the radar if the car you’ve just stolen is so common that there’s often more than one at a stoplight. All of those colors, save for green, are among the most common and popular in America.

But don’t think your car is safe just because it’s a bright, unusual color. A U.K. study by HPI found that some loud car colors are stolen even more frequently. Orange, cream, pink and yellow cars are also targets for auto theft—there are just fewer of them on the road. That said, you shouldn’t make a purchase decision with theft in mind. Vehicle theft is much more about bad luck and opportunity than it is about color.

What color can’t predict

The color of car you choose may put you more at risk of a collision or theft, yes. But some ideas about car color have come up on the internet (and probably long before the World Wide Web existed) that either can’t be proven or are simply untrue.

Red cars get pulled over more often

There’s a popular opinion among drivers that red cars are subjected to more traffic stops than any other color car. It can seem that way, especially if you’re the driver of the red car. But the theory just isn’t conclusive.

Any internet search will come up with competing results. Some claim that it’s proven—red cars are pulled over more often and ticketed more frequently because it’s viewed as a sporty color. Other results claim to prove it wrong; that gray is ticketed at disproportionately high rates while white and silver get away with more.

However, a source with the New York State Police confirms that none of the myths hold water. “From my experience, police are colorblind when it comes to traffic enforcement. We don’t care what color your car is. If you’re breaking the law or driving in an unsafe manner, we’re going to see you and pull you over,” the officer said.

Flashy car colors have higher insurance rates

You might’ve heard that certain car colors cost more to insure, particularly red once again. The idea behind it is that these colors tend to be driven more recklessly and get into more accidents. Although it’s not totally unreasonable, there does not appear to be a direct connection between car color and higher insurance premiums.

That said, certain car colors can be more expensive to purchase from the manufacturer. So, if you’ve just paid an extra $1,325 for Carpathian Grey paint on your Range Rover Evoque, the higher vehicle cost will increase the amount of insurance you need. Your premiums could be affected as a result.

Deer hit red cars more often

Another obscure myth is that red cars get into more wildlife collisions with deer. While it’s been proven that deer can’t see red and orange as well as other colors like blue and green, there’s no reason to believe that a moving two-ton object on wheels is somehow completely invisible to a deer.

Green cars are unlucky

What exactly “unlucky” means for a car color is hard to define, but green has been considered an unlucky color, at least when it comes to cars. Race cars are seldom green because they’re considered unlucky, and the idea has likely carried over to general automotive as well. Obviously, green cars aren’t inherently unlucky.

Other color considerations

What else do you need to weigh as you figure out what the best car color is for you? It might seem like splitting hairs, but determining what is the best color for a car should also be a practical decision, not just what looks good to you.

Dark cars are harder to keep clean

You’ve probably heard it said, “It’s easier to keep silver/gray/brown clean.” It’s true that a lighter color doesn’t show the dirt as much or expose water marks after a car wash. While a black car and a silver car physically have the same amount of dirt on them, the dark car shows it more. It’s simply a matter of contrast.

If you take pride in always driving a clean-looking car, darker colors probably aren’t for you. The coin-op car wash is going to get rich off of you.

Dark cars absorb more heat

It’s absolutely true that a dark car will get hotter in the sunlight than a light car. Scientifically speaking, black objects absorb all wavelengths of light while white reflects all light wavelengths. Your black paint converts the light energy to heat, but a white paint job stays cool—at least, much cooler to the touch.

That might not seem like a big deal, but in southern states, you want to keep your car cool as possible. High temperatures can eventually cause damage to the paint and your interior.

Color affects resale value

It’s all about the laws of economics: supply and demand. In order of popularity, white, black, gray and silver are the most sought-after car colors. If you own a car with an unusual paint color like pink, bright orange, or pale blue, fewer people are interested in buying your vehicle. The limited market could potentially put your car in high demand and help you reap a higher selling price, but more likely you’ll have to sell it at a lower price to attract a buyer.

Certain colors are hard to match

You don’t buy a car planning to be in an accident. But if you do get into one, having your car repaired to its pre-accident condition is an expectation. With certain car colors, it’s unlikely. For example, a pearlescent paint is nearly impossible to match exactly. If you need just a fender repainted, it’s not unheard of for the whole side of the car to be repainted to blend it in. Other times, you have to live with a repair that’s not quite the same color.

Some car colors don’t stand the test of time

Often, the best car color to buy doesn’t reveal itself immediately. In the 1990s, the Dodge Neon’s Lapis Blue paint was extremely popular among car owners, but in just a few years it tended to delaminate or peel. A silver Hyundai Tiburon could be expected to do the same thing.

It takes some research, but digging into a car manufacturer’s history by paint code can reveal whether a particular color has had complaints regarding premature peeling or corrosion.

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About Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau is an expert automotive writer with more than 21 years of auto industry experience, first in auto dealerships for 15 years and then as a writer. Having grown up around cars, the feel of a wrench became familiar for him and before graduating from high school, he had rebuilt engines and carburetors on personal vehicles. After school, Jason entered the workforce at a car dealership and worked his way through several positions in both sales and service. Jason has in-depth knowledge of the automotive industry at the dealership level along with repair information. Now, as a full-time writer, he writes engaging content in all different aspects of the automotive industry.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.