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Media post: Does Color Affect Safety, Tickets or Theft?

You have undoubtedly heard some of the urban legends concerning car colors, things like: white cars are cooler in the summer; red cars get pulled over by police more; yellow cars get stolen the least, etc. We have heard most these too and thought it would be fun to do a little research. Here is what we found out.

The most popular color

According to Edmunds, white has been the most popular color in North America since 2006. While this may not be especially relevant to you (because you prefer other colors,) consider one fact: popularity translates into higher resale value. That’s right, all other things being equal, a white car will bring you more money when its time to trade it in. We verified this with, a Mazda dealer in Baltimore, MD. They said that a majority of their clients are opting for white cars today and this extends to their used cars. Something to think about.

The ”Safest” Car Color

This one has been around for a long time. Some people believe that lighter color cars are a bit safer on the road because they are more easily seen. Unfortunately, research on car colors and crash rates is relatively sparse, however we did find one. In an Australian study performed at the Monash University Accident Research Centre in 2007, they found that white vehicles were about 10 percent less likely to be in a crash during daylight hours than vehicles in darker colored cars. This kind of makes sense, but who knew it was true?

Low-theft Colors

This is another piece of wisdom that comes up in conversation occasionally: cars of certain colors are less likely to be stolen. Well, as it turns out there is some truth to this too.
Dutch economist Ben Vollaard, an assistant professor at Tilburg University in The Netherlands, looked at vehicle theft data in the Netherlands from 2004 through 2008. What he discovered is interesting. According to his 2010 research report, cars painted two popular Dutch colors (blue and silver-gray) were stolen nearly 40 percent more often than cars in less popular colors. So, the natural next question is “why” and the answer is simple: resale value. Thieves naturally want cars that they can sell easily so they steal the most popular colors.

White cars are cooler in the summer

Conventional wisdom says people living in hot climates would do well to buy white cars if they want to keep their car cooler. This is another area of sparse research, but a quick study performed in 2011 at Argonne National Lab’s Center for Transportation Research revealed that this is true. In that study, scientists parked two Honda Civics, one black and the other silver, in the sun. After an hour, the silver car had an internal temperature about 10 degrees cooler than the black one.

Red cars get more tickets

A common piece of urban mythology says that red cars get pulled over by Police more often than other colors. Like the other factoids, this is also an area with sparse research but rich automotive urban mythology. Unfortunately, there aren’t public databases to verify this assumption but we found several articles that quoted police officers saying color makes no difference in who they pull over. So while we know what we want (or think we do) when it comes to the color of the vehicle we’re buying, there are a few things to think about before you settle on that final decision.

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