What colour is your vehicle?

White is the all-time favourite for most light vehicles in NSW. Motorcycle riders favour Black, even though it makes them harder to see. Some colours are clearly safer than others. But is colour a factor in insurance premiums? Does colour affect the price of your greenslip?

Most motorists prefer White

We analysed NSW registration and licensing statistics at 30 June 2021 by vehicle type and colour. This is what we found.

All light vehicles

Nearly a third of the 6.7 million registered light vehicles in NSW at 30 June 2021 are White. This includes light trucks, light passenger cars, motorcycles and scooters.

We compiled the top six colours:

Top six colours  
1st is White (32.5%) 4th is Black (10%)
2nd is Silver (19.1%) 5th is Blue (9.6%)
3rd is Grey (13.8%) 6th is Red (6.4%)

Nearly two thirds (65.4%) of all light vehicles are in the top three colours and just over a quarter (26%) are in the next three colours. Tan, Faun, Chrome and Khaki are the least desirable shades.

Passenger cars

The 3 million passenger cars in NSW are also more likely to be White:

1st is White (28%)
2nd is Silver (19.3%)
3rd is Grey (12.8%)

This means 60% are in the top three colours, but the least popular are Chrome, Tan and Khaki.

Light trucks

White is easily the majority choice for the 827,000 light trucks in NSW.

1st is White (61.0%)
2nd is Silver (11.1%)
3rd is Grey (8.8%)

Some 81% are in the top three colours and Tan, Chrome and Pink are the least desirable. It’s true we’ve not seen too many Pink trucks lately.

Motorcycle riders prefer Black

It’s a different story for owners of the 252,000 registered motorbikes in NSW. Black is the most popular colour. Ironically, Black is also the most dangerous colour on the road because it is hard to see.

1st is Black (30.4%)
2nd is Red (16.4%)
3rd is Blue (13.5%)

Some 60% of motorcycles are in the top three colours while Tan, Faun and Pink are the least favoured. Even so, Pink is one of the safest colours because it stands out so much.

Why is Black a dangerous colour?

According to State Farm, a US insurer, Black cars are involved in accidents 12% more often than White cars. In the early morning or evening, you are 1.5 times more likely to have an accident in a Black car than a White car.

Black is more dangerous because:

  • We are less vigilant about dark vehicles because they are less obvious
  • People tend to be more careful about vehicles that appear closer to them – Black, Blue and Green cars appear to be further away than Yellow or Red colours
  • Cars appear bigger in some cars than others – Yellow is a swelling colour, but Black and Blue are shrinking colours.

This makes riding a Black motorcycle even more risky than, say, an Orange or Red motorcycle. Do motorcycle riders consider the safety of certain colours?

Does anyone consider what colour is safe?

Monash University research in 2007 found the highest risk colours were:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Grey
  • Green
  • Red
  • Silver.

Ironically, this is almost the same list as the top 6 colours for light vehicles in NSW, except for Green. So it appears people don’t consider colour as a proxy for safety when they buy a vehicle. But do motor insurers consider colour?

Do motor insurers consider car colour?

Motor insurers are divided on the importance of colour in pricing premiums.

Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) said car paint was one factor that insurers use to price insurance and claimed White was the safest colour. However, Allianz said safety features in the vehicle were considered more important for safety than colour. Perhaps colour was more important as an indicator before vehicles had safety features.

Canstar claims a 40-year-old who wants to comprehensively insure a 2020 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport could pay $847 for a Black car or $789 for a White car.

Even so, colour is only one indicator of safety. Comprehensive insurance depends on many more factors, including location where the car is parked, age and driving record of driver, and the type of vehicle being insured.

The colour of your vehicle is not one of the factors in the price of your greenslip. However, your accident and claims record does affect prices, so it’s possible the colour of your vehicle makes an indirect difference.

(Perhaps you just want to buy a yellow, orange or pink car.)

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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