I'm buying a new car, and I've heard that black cars appear more menacing and receive a proportionally higher amount of stops from police, with white receiving the least. Is there any truth to this?

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    I've heard that red cars have less accidents (because they are more visible/aggressive) and that pink cars are less likely to be stolen (because they are ugly)... ;-) – Sklivvz Oct 7 '11 at 12:12
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    Dunno about white vs black re being stopped, however driving white cars at night can get you clearer traffic (as folks may think you are police). I do know from my traffic cop friends that you are much more likely to be stopped if you have rally decals, aftermarket spoiler or exhaust or a heavily lowered car. They didn't mention colour though. – Rory Alsop Oct 7 '11 at 12:54
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    Eh, I've heard that red cars have more accidents, because the sorts of people who buy red cars are the sorts who like to drive fast. Time for some investigation! – Jivlain Oct 7 '11 at 13:39
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    Of course. A black car is worth 6 points while a white car is minus 4: snopes.com/autos/law/redcars.asp – MSalters Oct 10 '11 at 13:22
  • In Britain it is commonly said that a red car is most likely to be stopped, because the police play "speeding snooker" (nick a red, nick a colour, nick another red, etc). – Brian Hooper Oct 28 '11 at 18:21

An article on Insurance Quotes cites an article in the St. Petersburg Times, which states:

White cars, which accounted for 25 percent of the cars on the road, were issued 19 percent of speeding tickets. By contrast, red cars made up 14 percent of those on the road but represented 16 percent of speeding tickets.

The article in the St. Petersburg Times, is also cited by Snopes:

Gray cars were the ones that gained a greater share of the speeding tickets than they statistically should have: while they accounted for only 6 percent of cars on the road, they pulled down 10 percent of the tickets issued. On the flip side, silver cars got only 5 percent of the tickets, yet they represented 10 percent of the car population.

Unfortunately, that article never seems to have made it onto the internet, so we don't know what it found about black cars.

According to a study at the Monash University in Australia:

Compared to white vehicles, black cars had a 12 per cent higher crash risk, closely followed by grey cars with 11 per cent higher risk. Silver vehicles were next, with 10 per cent, then blue and red at 7 per cent. While other car colours such as cream, yellow and beige ranked closely to white, no other colour ranked safer than white.

Now, they suggest that the reason is that dark cars have a less contrast against the road, meaning that other drivers don't see them well. So that increase in accident cause wouldn't necessarily translate into more tickets, whether because of increased visibility to police, poor driving, or risk taking.

A study published in the British Medical Journal found that brown cars were most likely to be involved in an accident, followed by black and green. Silver, brown and red were the least likely. They also consider the lack of contrast to be the reason.

According to "Bright Cars and Speeding Tickets", published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology:

The percentage of speed over the limit was not related to the characteristics of the cars or the drivers. It was found, however, that red, grey, and brown cars were more likely to receive speeding tickets than cars of other colors.

I can't find anything more than the abstract on this side of a paywall. However, black is a very common car colour, so it should have shown up here (second most common according to that Insurance Quotes article).

Bright Cars and Outsiders: Evidence of Asymmetric Estimates in Vehicular Speeds, published in the same journal found that:

An analysis of speeding records indicates that brightly colored vehicles systematically receive citations for relatively lower speeds.

That preprint, unfortunately, excludes the data tables, but:

Results provide compelling evidence that bright colors, such as red, yellow and white, receive citations for relatively lower speeds – implying that judgements or attitudes may differ across colors by authorities. Conversely, the dark colors remain insignificant across both models—indicating that black, blue and green vehicles receive citations for statistically equivalent speeds than brown vehicles and statistically higher than red, yellow and white.

Conclusion: There may be variations in ticket frequency between colours - but the results are rather contradictory. None, however, have shown that black cars are anything but average in terms of tickets. However, you would be more likely to get hit by somebody, so watch out for that.

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    The first three studies aren't terribly helpful (unless you can show there is no correlation between car colour and driving habits). If hoons tend to buy red cars and safe drivers tend to buy silver cars, then colour is merely a confounding factor, and shouldn't be used to decide what car to buy. The last study is right on the mark though. – Oddthinking Oct 7 '11 at 15:19
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    "A study published in the British Medical Journal found that brown cars were most likely to be involved in an accident, followed by black and green. Silver, brown and red were the least likely. They also consider the lack of contrast to be the reason." I think you may have made a mistake here. – Zibbobz Jan 6 '15 at 17:24

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