eli5 “You’re more likely to be in an accident in a red car”


I heard this statement and it confused me. The explanation was more red cars have accidents than other cars. But surely that doesn’t translate to “I personally am more likely to have an accident if I drive a red car than a blue car today”? Assuming there’s nothing inherently about red cars that makes them more likely to crash. I’m struggling with the maths theory behind it.

Edit to clarify my question: does the statistic that “red cars have more accidents” translate to the statement that “I, personally, all other things being equal, am more likely to have an accident if I drive a red car than a blue one”?

In: 10

Well I know historically it was statistically the most common car colour. Therefore if there’s more red cars than any other colour. Everything else being the same, more red cars will be in accidents. The percentage however shouldn’t vary

I believe that insurance companies think that if you drive a red car, you will drive faster than in a different coloured car, so the chance of accidents would be higher.

Statistically, red cars are in more accidents. I know it was true at one point. I don’t know if it still is.

All is saying is that, out of all of the recorded accidents, red cars have been in an accident more often than any other color car.

Why is this true? I don’t really know. I can speculate, though.

Much like white cars are harder to see in a snow storm, at certain times of the day, it might be harder to see a red vehicle. Such as at sunrise or sunset.

Or it could just be that people who pick red for their car color tend to be more reckless.

The reason doesn’t really matter. It’s just the fact that red cars are in more accidents than any other color car. And that’s important to insurance companies.

This is not exactly math but is related to formal logic, and specifically a phenomena that is very important in science and politics. It is important to distinguish correlation and causality. Correlation is when two variables have some sort of relation. In your case it is the color of the car and the chance of getting into an accident. Causality is when one thing causes something else. You are reading this correlation as if the color of the car causes the car to be involved in an accident, but this is not always the case. Correlation does not mean there is a causality. It could easily be that people who buy red cars are the same type of people who are often involved in traffic accidents. But the statement does not specify if this is the case or not.

There are several ways of finding causality once you have found a correlation. You could collect more data to try to find more correlations, for example if you find out that a certain population group are correlated with both red cars and traffic accidents even ignoring the red cars that are in traffic accidents then you have a causality. Or you could try to manipulate one of the variables, for example would banning red cars reduce traffic accidents? If not then there is no causality.

It would be great to hear from an insurance person, but according to the person who presented to my university class a decade ago, it’s about the person who chooses to drive a red vehicle.

The way he explained it, there is a correlation between choosing to drive a red vehicle and accidents. So, their insurance is higher. The general idea is that people driving red cars drive faster and are more reckless. But it’s all about the person who chooses red, not the vehicle color itself resulting in more accidents.

Downside is being a person who drives a red vehicle because it’s easier to find with the bright and less common color.

Edit: see comment for actual knowledgeable person below, vehicle color isn’t factored into price of insurance.