White Car/Black Car – Some Facts About Car Colors

by | Jan 8, 2018


Today’s IFOD concerns a few interesting facts about car colors.

First Topic: Safety. A few months ago we were shopping for a car for our 18 year old daughter. I found a black car I liked.  My wife said “let’s not get a black car because I think they are harder to see and so aren’t as safe.” Sounded reasonable, so we got a white one.  But, is she right?

The best resource appears to be a 2007 study out of Monash University in Australia (side note – looked up Monash University and it’s one of the top universities in Australia and ranks among the world’s best 100 universities). The study entitled “An Investigation into the Relationship Between Colour and Crash Risk” examined about 750,000 crashes between 1987-2004 in two Australian states and found “a clear statistically significant relationship between vehicle colour and crash risk.”  Specifically, here’s what the study found:

  • White cars have the lowest crash risk.  Some colors such as orange and yellow might have lower crash risk, but the results relating to those colors were not statistically significant.
  • The crash risk for various colors as compared to white cars varies depending on whether it is daylight, dawn or dusk, or dark.
  • Overall, black, blue, grey, green, red and silver cars have higher crash risk than white cars.
  • “The association between vehicle colour and crash risk was strongest during daylight hours where relative crash risks were higher for colours” other than white.  This makes sense because at night cars are mainly identified by their lights.
  • Specifically, black cars have a 12% increased risk during the daytime and a shocking 47% crash risk as compared to a white car at dawn or dusk. At night the crash risk of black cars is not statistically significant as compared to white cars.
  • Link to Monash University Study: Monash U Paper
  • Another study found that daytime running lights reduce the incidents of collisions by about 3-5%.

Second Topic: Car Color Popularity.

According to a survey done by PPG Industries, 77% of car buyers said color was a factor when they were choosing their next vehicle. I’m surprised its not 95%.

Popularity of car colors varies over time and also varies by type of car. Red is a popular color for a sports car, but less so for a minivan.  Overall, since 2006 White has been the most popular car color.  Prior to 2006, grey/silver was tops.  Blue has been growing the fastest in popularity over the past few years. Believe it or not, between 1994 – 1997 green was the most popular color in North America (I found this shocking until I remembered I owned a green 1995 Passat). Green now makes up less than 1% of cars in in North America. Interestingly, auto analysts find that popularity of car colors track colors in technology. The colored mac computers of the 90s coincided with those hue of cars. The rise of the white iPod and Macs in the early 2000s and the white-rimmed iPhones and iPads have possibly added to the popularity of white cars.

Here are two interesting charts.



Here’s a link to the above graphic if you can’t read it (it’s on page 4 of this): 60 Years of Color

Popularity by type:



1 Comment

  1. I wish you’d found and shared this study before we bought a new Honda CRV in 2016. I wanted a white one. I think white makes a vehicle look classier, plus white doesn’t show dust as easily as a dark color. Dave said white was harder to see in snowy conditions, so we ended up with a burgundy-ish color. It’s so hard to keep it looking clean. I hate that!


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