You may only want to hail yellow taxis: The brightly colored cabs are involved in fewer accidents than blue ones, because yellow is more visible, according to a new study.
An analysis of millions of detailed taxi, driver and accident information over a three-year period from Singapore's largest taxi company found yellow taxis were involved in 9% fewer accidents than blue ones, the study said.
Researchers ruled out differences in driving speed, number of stops and distance covered as factors, leaving color as the primary reason. "Color was the only differentiator because the company used the same car models and enforced the same maintenance policy for all its taxis," the study reported.
Because yellow taxis are more noticeable than blue ones — especially when in front of another vehicle — other drivers can better avoid hitting them, directly reducing the accident rate, the study found. It's the first published research that identified vehicle color as a main contributor to accident rates.
“This finding can play a significant role when choosing colors for public transportation and may save lives as well as millions of dollars,” the authors wrote in the study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
If the company changed the color of its entire fleet of 12,525 blue taxis to yellow, 76 fewer accidents would occur per month, or 917 fewer accidents per year.
Yellow has been a popular color for taxis since 1907, when the Chicago Yellow Cab Company chose the color based on a survey that said yellow was the most noticeable color. Back then, when all other cars were black, it was easier for potential passengers to spot a yellow cab.
"It could turn out that a simple commercial decision made by the Chicago Yellow Cab Company more than a century ago has an inadvertent, positively impactful economic and potentially life-saving outcome that we can adopt and expand on, starting today," the study said.