Recommended Colors For Fire Trucks, Ambulances, And Police Cars

Overall, through the years, fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars have been pretty recognizable thanks to their appearance – namely, the paint job. But there are new designs, lighting systems, sirens, and paint colors on the horizon. Many of these have already been implemented in any number of cities, towns, states, etc.

But what makes one color better than another? Is it just a matter of taste, the desire to do something truly different, or is there a deeper seated reason for choosing the new colors we are seeing on emergency vehicles today? Let’s take a look at some of the fresh new paint jobs that have been suggested for emergency vehicles, how it was determined that these colors be used, and why.

Why Change Anything?

When firetrucks were on their way to an emergency, accidents between them and other motor vehicles numbered almost 15,000 in one year (2001). What could have caused this? Among other things, it turns out that one of the hardest colors for the human eye to detect is red – just the opposite of what one would expect. What could be easier to see than a big, bright, red truck?

Additionally, besides red, the other color that is most difficult for the human eye to detect is black. Any color in combination with either of these (i.e., black and white, red and white), rather than increasing visibility, enhances the camouflage effect.

Is There a Color That Is Best?

When it comes to the human eye, one of the most noticeable colors ends up being lime and yellow-green shades. This is even true during nighttime hours. Because of this, lime green is replacing red fire trucks in numerous departments.

Is It Safer?

Okay, lime yellow (and variations thereof) is easy to see. But is it safer? A study was done by the Dallas Fire Department which resulted in at least two significant findings:

  • If an accident occurred involving a lime yellow truck, the risk of tow-away damage or injury was less than with different colored trucks.
  • When a comparison was made between lime yellow trucks and red (and red and white) firetrucks, the risk of multiple-vehicle accidents related to visibility showed that lime yellow trucks were three times less likely to be involved.

Note: In a comparison between red fire trucks and lime yellow trucks, in a study done previously, it was determined that red firetrucks were twice as likely to be involved in an accident at an intersection.

The Old-Fashioned Black and White

So, are the days of tried-and-true black-and-white police cars coming to an end? Since the 30s and 40s, this has been the look that everyone associated with the police, sheriff, etc. It’s going to take some time for people to get used to differently colored police cars. But what colors are these cars being switched to?

Some cities are going with all black or solid colors. But are those safer? It turns out that, both during the day and at night, black cars blend in exceedingly well with their background. Because of this, black-and-white is being returned to by some cities. Unfortunately, that may not be the best move for safety sake. Incredibly, the risk of visibility related accidents actually increases with black-and-white or two-tone cars. The reason for this is that the silhouette of the vehicle is broken up, which decreases visibility.

What About Lime Green Again?

If lime green is best for fire trucks, why not police cars? Good question! If not lime green, at least use a color scheme that is solid with added reflective material. If not lime green, what other solid colors are recommended? More visible than the old black and white cars are solid white, yellow, or cream colored cars.

Naturally, these color suggestions also would apply to ambulances. Mickey Genuine Parts can change the exterior look of your van or truck with Mickey skins. Make your vehicle as noticeable as today’s emergency vehicles! Contact us today to schedule a consultation or service at one of our conveniently located Mickey certified service centers throughout the United States.

Let’s keep truckin'.

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