When I heard on a french radio network this morning that silver cars were less prone to accidents than cars of any other color, I had to find the source for this information. It is a study conducted (no puns intended!) in New Zealand in 1998 and 1999. This study has been published by the British Medical Journal under the name "Car colour and risk of car crash injury."
Here are some highlights of this study which involved about 1,100 drivers.
The Auckland car crash injury study was conducted in the Auckland region of New Zealand between April 1998 and June 1999. The study population comprised all drivers of cars on public (urban and rural) roads in the region. Cases (n = 571) were all car drivers involved in crashes in which one or more of the occupants of the car were admitted to hospital or died. Controls (n = 588) were car drivers identified by cluster sampling of drivers from randomly selected sites on the road network, at randomly selected times, representative of all time spent driving in the study region during the study.
The researchers found that white cars represent the largest percentage of all cars, but without any correlation to the age of the vehicles. And before performing their multivariable analysis, they eliminated factors which could affect the statistical results, such as the age and sex of the drivers or the age or the speed of the cars.
We found a significant reduction (about 50%) in the risk of serious injury in silver cars compared with white cars. There was a significant increased risk of a serious injury in brown vehicles after confounders had been adjusted for and the risks for black and green cars were also raised. However, green and brown colour groups were heterogeneous in terms of shades of colours included. The risk of a serious injury in yellow, grey, red, and blue cars was not significantly different from that in white cars.
For more information, here is a link to a detailed table about their results, "Association of car colour with car crash injury in Auckland."
In their conclusion, the researchers clearly admit that their study has limitations. Moreover, they don't give an explanation. But they do offer a suggestion.
Increasing the proportion of silver cars could be an effective passive strategy to reduce the burden of injury from car crashes.
So will your next car be a silver one?
Source: British Medical Journal, Volume 327, Pages 1455-1456, December 20, 2003