We’ve all heard someone say that people who drive red cars get in more accidents. Or that insurers charge more for drivers of scarlet vehicles … but while insurers do generally consider vehicle age, make and model, they could care less about color. For some reason, millennials seem especially prone to believe this myth: more than half (53%) think insuring a red car costs you more than any other color.

But why does the theory of “the red effect” persist? It’s likely that these ideas are remnants of long held associations that exist in many Western cultures about the color red. That it represents passion, dominance, or signals anger. In turn, these beliefs have informed the notion that drivers of red cars are more aggressive and therefore more prone to accidents, speeding, or other dangerous behaviors behind the wheel. But does the research back it up?

A 2007 study coming out of Australia showed that drivers of red cars were actually less likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash than drivers of other colored cars. (Black cars were most likely to be involved in a crash).

Another study coming out of France found that drivers of red cars weren’t the aggressors but victims of aggression. That is, other drivers were more likely to honk excessively or flash their lights at red cars than cars of other colors.

And what about speeding? A close look at the statistics on ticketed motor vehicles shows that drivers of red cars may indeed be ticketed more often than drivers of any other vehicle color. The exception would only be white cars since they’re one of the most popular vehicle colors on the road today. But it’s unclear if the correlation is due to red car driver behavior or the effect of “seeing red” on law enforcement. For example, the color red has been shown to raise blood pressure.

So does driving a red car reveal anything about the driver’s personality? Some would say yes, attributing all kinds of traits to drivers of red cars — that they’re high energy, attention-seeking, or even extra sensual. Some might go so far as to draw a distinction between shades of red and personality: identifying drivers of bright red cars as sexy and dynamic while drivers of deeper shades could be labeled sophisticated.

But while some color experts and psychologists say that all colors impact our mood, behavior, and health in different ways, there are very few scientific studies on the topic of car color and safety. At this point, it’s all mostly conjecture.

So, what can we say for certain? That your car insurance rates won’t be impacted by your color choice. For the best rates, look for a reliable vehicle, shop around for quotes, and stay safe out there.

Safe and smart | Car safety


about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.