Hazardous Journey

Car colour and risk of car crash injury: population based case control study

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7429.1455 (Published 18 December 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1455

The distinction between victims and villains

Editor: In all the discussions about car colour and accidents,except
for Nichloas Moore's rapid response "but who was responsible?" no-one
seems properly to have made the distinction between victims and villains -
that is, those whose vehicles were hit by someone else, and those who did
the hitting.

In an unpublished project many years ago, using data from the Road
Accident Research Unit at this university, a student used records of
crashed cars where the police report described the vehicle as an innocent
victim. Standardising on one make of car (a Ford Escort, as it happens),
because of the possibility that different kinds of driver use different
kinds of car, and using only side-impact crashes (between 60 and 120
degrees), he found that the relative risk of being an innocent victim of
this kind was 1.6 for "dark" vehicles compared with "light" vehicles.

These definitions were determined by using a photographic light-meter
directed at a full range of car colours, and dividing the measurements at
the median. The background population data was determined by recording
(for hours on end) the colour of Ford Escorts passing along a main road in
Birmingham. This does not reflect the population distribution of car
colour (the manufacturers, and local garages, refused to supply this, on
grounds of commercial confidentiality), but does reflect the proportionate
use of cars of each colour, which is the relevant concept.
We know of no similar study investigating the "villain" side of the
relationship. But from personal experience we suspect that those who drive
bright red cars, or black cars with tinted windows, may be different in
their driving behaviour from other drivers.

Yaser Adi, Systematic Reviewer, Department of Public Health and
Epidemiology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham , UK

Tim Marshall, Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Epidemiology,
University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

09 January 2004
Y Adi
Systematic Reviewer
Tim Marshall, Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Epidemiology
Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Birmingham, UK, B15 2TT