Are some cars more visible than others on rainy day?

When it comes to the aesthetics of vehicle color, many of us hold certain opinions like; black cars show less dirt, that red cars are faster or a bright orange car is less likely to be stolen. So it would be logical to assume that some consumers would be just as likely to consider safety as a factor when choosing the color of their vehicle. But is there evidence to suggest that certain colors will be more or less safe in different conditions like rain or snow?

The relationship between car color and safety is complex. As only a few studies have been conducted in this area, the results of these studies should be considered more of a suggestion than an exact science. There are many factors that can contribute to an automobile accident, and while the color of the vehicles involved can play a role, it is important to remember that it is not nearly as influential a factor as how safe you are behind the wheel.

The Influence of Car Colors:

The background color of the environment (trees, deserts, fields), weather conditions (rain, fog, snow) and daylight can have a significant effect on a vehicle’s visibility. However, studies tend to lean toward light conditions as one of the more influential factors contributing to a vehicle’s color and its crash risk. A 2002 study observed that that light-colored (like white or yellow) cars were less likely to be “passively involved” in crashes during daylight, on open roads, and during less-than-ideal weather conditions. A 2007 study by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) in Australia then compared the crash data of black, blue, brown, cream, fawn, gold, green, gray, maroon, white, mauve, orange, pink, purple, red, silver and yellow vehicles against white vehicles.

Best and Worst Colors for Poor Conditions:

Research revealed colors related to high risk were black, blue, gray, green, red and silver. Compared to white, darker colors such as black, blue, gray and others ranking lower on the visibility index were associated with higher crash risk in daylight hours. Silver was observed as being quite visible in several weather conditions but was reported as being difficult to see at times of changing light levels like sunrise and sunset.

BEST Car Colors:

White, yellow, orange – In 2013, white was the world's most popular car color. At night, white is the most visible, but the study also noted that a lime-yellow stands out better against cloudy skies and snowy backdrops than white does. Other eye-catching colors like bright orange or lime green are also more visible in rainy conditions and are frequently suggested as the optimal safety-gear colors for making motorcycle riders more visible.

WORST Car Colors:

Red, black, gray – At night, people often perceive the color red as black, and humans tend to have particularly poor peripheral detection of red shades. A study even noted that emergency vehicles such as firetrucks should consider changing vehicle colors to shades of yellow and white. Black cars had the worst record for passive involvement in crashes, and gray vehicles were described as significantly difficult to see in rainy and snowy conditions.

Although the most visible car would seem to be the safest, whichever car you’re driving, YOU are the biggest factor for arriving safely at your destination. It is important that you be proactive by remaining extra alert in poor weather conditions and choosing to never drive distracted. Turn your headlights on at dusk and dawn. When it’s foggy, raining or snowing, turn on your running or fog lights.

Regardless of the color of your car, if you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, the experienced automobile accident attorneys of Hupy and Abraham are here to help. If you have any questions or would like to start a free consultation, please contact us at 800-800-5678 or start a live chat 24/7.

Jill Erin Wellskopf
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Director of Marketing, Hupy and Abraham