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Hi Ho silver is safe!

By: Tom Ripley for Driving Today

Date: Friday, 17. November 2006

Silver rules the road. According to the DuPont Automotive Color Popularity Report, an annual compilation of data on vehicle color trends, silver retains its top spot as the most popular car color. Year after year, car buyers show their love of silver. But now there might be another reason, aside from esthetics, for choosing silver as the color for your next car. A team of New Zealand epidemiologists has recently published a two-year study of crash data compiled in their homeland, and the results say occupants of silver cars are less likely to be involved in injury accidents than those riding in cars of another color. And while they seem steadfast that the results of the study are accurate, the most vexing thing is they can't figure out why.

Before you cry out, "People who buy silver cars must be safer drivers than those who buy red or purple cars!" you should know that the researchers made every effort to screen for anything that might skew survey results. Thus the results were adjusted for age, sex, alcohol level (three of our favorite adjustment factors), education, use of drugs, seatbelt use, driver's license status, and even the average time spent behind the wheel. In addition to the human factors, the study also tried to screen out vehicle-related factors like age, engine size, and condition. And, finally, the research team tried to eliminate other wild cards such as weather, road conditions, and light variables (daylight, dusk, and nighttime.)

silver carWhen all this was fed into the giant analysis computer, the British Medical Journal reported, silver cars were 60 percent less likely to be involved in a serious injury than the control group--white cars. Even when the adjustments for confounding variables were removed from the data, silver cars were still 50 percent less likely to be involved in a serious injury accident than white.

If silver is safest, what are the least safe? Dark earth tones. Brown vehicles were 110 percent more likely to be involved in an injury accident than white cars, when the adjustment factors were taken into account. Black was almost equally bad at 100 percent more likely and green cars were 80 percent more likely.

So if dark colors are unsafe, you might figure that bright colors like yellow and red would be safer because they are more likely to be seen. Well, yes and no. On unadjusted bases, both red and yellow vehicles were viewed as much more likely to be involved in injury accidents, but when adjusted for all the other variables, they actually registered as being safer than the control color of white.

So what does all this mean? Will driving a silver car instead of a brown one enhance your family's safety? Maybe. What we do know is that while silver cars are very popular now, red and other high-chroma colors are charging up the popularity charts. The question we have to ask is, what price fashion?

---France-based Tom Ripley writes frequently about autos and the human condition. Lately, he has also taken to attending runway shows, at least until security turns him out.

� Studio One Networks

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All Comments (21)

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Back when I got married to my first wife I used to have to pick her up from a company a short way from where I worked. In those days there was no such thing as flexitime so everybody was leaving work at between 5 & 5:30pm. I used to wait for ages while the traffic passed the exit from her car park until someone would let me out. That was with a dark green car. I changed my car to a white one and from then on no more than a couple of cars passed by before someone let me out. The only way I could explain this was that I was much more noticeable.

Another example of why grey to black cars can be difficult to see also occurred many years ago but still remains vivid in my memory. We were driving through the New Forest on a beautiful sunny day on bone dry roads. As we drove down one side of a valley I prepared to overtake the car in front of me. At the last minute I spotted a dark grey, or maybe black, car coming the other way. If you can visualise it, my view of that car those split seconds earlier was effectively looking down on it from above, hence none of the frontal brightwork was visible and the car just blended into the road. From that day forward I vowed to never have what I started calling camouflage cars.

Ruben Johnson,

Please visit u tube site to see tips for updating colors of road repair equipment with the new school bus yellow color that is free on new vehicles in Canada


Well, when it's pouring down rain, foggy, and dreary outside and someone in a silver car is driving without their lights on, no one can see them very well. White, silver, and gray cars are horrible in very foggy areas. I can't see them in that type of weather, but on sunny clear days? Fabulous!


I have always been a safe driver and so is my husband. Since purchasing our silver mini-van (Honda Odyssey) 2 years ago, we have been rear-ended 3 times, usually while stopped. While our injuries have not been serious, it has been very frustrating. I don't understand whether other drivers can't see our vehicle or are all just too much in a hurry?! On another note, my husband had a silver car for work purposes and he was broad-sided and the car was totalled. Again, he was not seriously injured. So, I am really starting to question the visibility and safety of silver vehicles since we have 2 small children which is why we got a minivan in the first place.


And it is white!!! I am proud to announc that my new little SUV, a CR-V is white and a perfect match for the little white sports car, as they sit in the garage together, taking turns being driven.

I really believe that white is a great color for a car and very safe.



i cant even drive


I have driven a white car for 24 years and to date it has not been in any moving accident. However, a drunk hit it at night while it was parked in a parking lot (there were witnesses). I don't think that the color of the car would have made much difference in that case. Another time, a very large SUV backed into it when it was parked (it is a sports car and was below the view out the back window of that vehicle. Color didn't have anything to do with that either, because the driver could not see the car at all. Even today, as my sports car has shrunk comparatively in size with the advent of all the SUV's that are on the road, it still appears that my car is visible. Rarely does anybody run out in front of me or appear to not see me, even though I am the "little guy" on the road.

I am looking to buy another vehicle soon, and guess what??? It will be white!! Not only do I believe it is safe, but white never goes out of style!



As you can tell, "Lester" Who is actually Chingyi is an immature boy is very annoying. I would ignore his silly comments.


Dont drive like Gaby if you want to die


If you have a black car your going to die if you have a white car you going to die too so my point is you die anyway!!!
So have fun driving

Gaby & Chloe,

We think that Mel Globerman's idea was very intelligent indeed. I was surprised to find out that White and silver were safest as they can easily blend into their surroundings in the morning. I agree that they are safer than dark colours though.- Gaby

Unlike Gaby i was not too surprised about white as it won't blend into the night, unlike red, black and brown. Though wouldn't an extremely vibrant car such as neon pink, orange yellow or lime green also be very safe?- chloe


The issue of safety and car color is related to visual perception and driving. Peripheral vision doesn't see much other than relative movements and contrasts. Any color that contrasts with its background will be more easily seen. So the safest color will depend somewhat on when and where you drive.

Daytime Running lights (DRLs) are a way to improve the situation.


a friend of mine and i have had many conversations about silver cars. We have also talked about the colour of bicycles. It seems the most popular colour for them is black. Might this be why they get hit so often?


I have problems seeing any "pavement colored car(s.) When I am trying to enter the interstate from a entrance ramp, the tan, gray and brown are just harder to see. They blend in with the roadway.

I had a silver car when I was younger, and people were always pulling out in front of me. And when it was parked at night, a truck hit it. That was hard to take, it wasn't two weeks old.

Mel Globerman,

The safest colors--A White background with a contrasting stripe of bright orange (if possible retroreflective). White is the most visible, and the orange is an excellent contrasting color that is also highly visible especially under varing light conditions. For example the following items are orange: Black Boxes on aircraft, Life Boats, Warning Signs in construction areas, Safety Barriers, Structures adjacent to airport runways, Traffic Cones, Safety vests, Hunter’s clothes (Hats, vests, coats), the tips of toy guns and those used for training, OSHA safety colors
for critical areas such as dangerous machinery.


white is seen better than silver or sand colors and i feel safer when i know iam seen

Susan Brown,

I dispute your article.

Silver is a very dangerous color for a car. It blends into the road.

I had a silver colored car and was involved in head-on collision because the other driver did not see me.


I've had 6 cars that were dark green or aqua. All 5 incidents with those cars happened when the cars were either parked or stopped. Although I like the color, I think my next car will be silver because I'm tired of getting into a dark car that's been parked outside on a hot summer day.


I think color choice is always going to have something to do with personality. Here in Canada's province of Ontario the police have just decided to color their cars black and white, just like they were years ago. Seems like a strange decision. They will be mostly black with white doors. That's almost like camouflage.The most visible colors are white (but not when there's snow) and bright yellow like fire engines use.


There's a school of thought that personality can sway the findings in what are the safer colors. For example I read that they find that many people who prefer red vehicles are often have a more aggressive or competitive personality. This leads to more risk taking and an increase in accident rates.


I've owned red, black, white and sand color cars. I'm an excellent driver, with no moving violation/tickets in my life. Of all the above cars I've owned, here's the breakdown:

red: no collisions
black: no collisions
white: no collisions
sand/beige: two collisions,both when I was at a stand-still (waiting to turn). On both occasions, both people at fault claimed not to see me. One was a rear-ender (broad daylight), the other was a side impact, also broad daylight.

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