Those with hot heads do not necessarily favor hot colors; red is apparently one of the safest colors on the road.
Data from a 2007 study by Monash University in Australia shows that in fact, red cars are less likely to be involved in accidents compared to other colors. Statistical analysis revealed that black is the most accident-prone car color, likely due to its low visibility at night. Researchers also found that white is the safest car color, again citing the visibility factor.
At least in Western culture, people see red as the most aggressive color, with scientists from as early as 1942 linking it to heightened physiological arousal and aggression. On the other hand, colors such as blue and green are noted for their calming effect.
Unfortunately, red constitutes mutually exclusive solutions for road rage and car accidents, attorneys from Springfield, IL say. While a red coat of paint enables a car to remain visible to oncoming traffic, it tends to make the driver inside too visible for beleaguered motorists.
A field study led by Nicolas Guéguen of the University of Southern Brittany in France proved this very phenomenon, finding that drivers tend to be more aggressive towards red cars. For the study, a male researcher driving on a busy street stopped a red light. He would then refuse to move when the light turned green, eliciting aggressive responses from the drivers stuck behind.
Two observers would track the time it takes before other drivers react, either by honking multiple times or by flashing their lights at the experimental car. Guéguen used a single car model in five different colors (red, green, blue, black, and white) for his study, and postulated from 422 driver reactions that red cars elicited aggressive responses at a significantly higher rate.
There are countless tiny factors influencing how a person behaves on the road. Color may serve as a substantial influence, but painting a vehicle the right shade of red is never a replacement for responsible driving.