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How The Color Of Your Car's Paint Can Impact Safety

Lexus loaned us an LC500H, a sports coupe you don’t see around much, which could be because it costs $104,000.

The regular LC has an old Mustang-sized V-8 and claims zero to 60 faster than this sentence. The H does it .3 seconds slower, but it drops the engine to Camry-size V-6 and adds hybrid batteries and motors to get ten more miles to the gallon. You can be tooling along at freeway speeds with no gas engine running.

The flush door handles swing out electronically so you can grab them. But this coupe is about driving fast alone on curvy roads. 

Our loaner had $500-extra, pearly-metallic Flare Yellow paint that could make it safer than its eight airbags.

Australian researchers found that white cars are least likely to get in a crash. Black cars had a 12% higher crash risk, followed by gray, silver, red, and blue. They said colors like cream, beige, and yellow ranked near white. 

 

As a driver who finds himself pulling in front of black and gray cars too often, and once backed into a black one, I can see it. Or not see it. 

The effects go away when the sun goes down.

 

The good news is that white has been the most popular car color in the U.S. since 2006, according to paintmaker Axalta, covering 29% of all cars last year. The bad is that blend-in-with-blacktop black has been in second since 2008, and there’s a new wave of gray and mud-colored vehicles, while fun to see when parked, are harder to see when moving. 

Paintmaker PPG called blue-gray Chinese Porcelain the color of 2020, and Axalta blue-green Sea Glass. Both are lovely, but closer to the color of the road than white or Flare Yellow.

 

Brian Champagne grew up in the less-famous Central California but left after starting his television news career there. He worked 22 years in news for NBC, ABC, Fox, and CBS affiliates in four markets. He served as chief photographer for KTXL-TV in Sacramento, but worked in front of the camera, too.