By Naomi Muller
You’ve probably heard that drivers of red cars are most often ticketed for speeding and traffic violations. It makes sense why bright red vehicles would be singled out more than other cars on the road. Red is eye-catching and a bold color choice for a personal vehicle. Maybe you can even picture the type of person who might choose to get behind the wheel of a candy-apple-hued sports car running red lights and speeding down a highway. Unconsciously, we may also associate red with anger or frustration which could bring to mind road rage and visions of reckless driving.
This often-repeated car “fact” is actually just a myth that has persisted over the years. It is easy to believe and many people assume it’s true without verifying it by taking a look at the data available from insurance providers.
In reality, red automobiles are the second most pulled-over after white cars, with silver and gray vehicles ranking 3rd and 4th on the list. This is not because white grabs attention or because drivers of white cars are especially reckless—there are simply more of them on the road. 77.1% of all cars currently being driven are on the grayscale spectrum–meaning they’re mostly white, black, and shades of gray in-between. The number one color is white. While the most popular car color fads reported change from year-to-year, grayscale cars may be viewed by consumers as easier to keep clean and more neutral for buyers who seek utility over style and don’t care to follow current trends.
It also must be considered, the average car on the road is around 12 years old according to the industry research firm IHS Markit. So, the trends of the past are still represented heavily on the road today with drivers of older vehicles waiting at the same red lights as new car buyers.
Stereotypes and common media tropes aside, the idea that there is a certain type of person who gravitates toward buying and driving a red car extends beyond a simple decision from what color options are available on the sales lot. Research related to consumer choices in car brands and models offer a wealth of information about the people driving them–much of which may seem unrelated without comparing multiple data sources. The relationship between modern consumers and their buying choices holds valuable information about who they are, how they think, and what they prioritize in other aspects of their lives. For marketing purposes, car preferences may be combined by marketers with other data append products such as contact information or even wealth scores.
According to a survey of American drivers conducted by Strategic Vision in 2020, Subaru drivers were more likely to vote for Joe Biden because they tend to lean Democrat. Pickup truck drivers, on the other hand, were more likely to have voted for Trump because they more often lean Republican. Democrats reported being more interested in car brands with environmentally-friendly options (and more likely to travel via public transportation) while Republicans responded that they preferred to purchase cars based on their personal aesthetics–especially brands marketed to reflect luxury and the power of the driver.
These insights provided from the 46,000 drivers who were asked about their political preferences also suggested Democrats typically hold onto their cars much longer than Republicans who typically buy new cars every three to six years. This is also because, according to the same survey responses, Democrats and progressives skew younger and therefore have less buying power than Republican car buyers who may more easily afford their desired vehicle upgrades.
According to the Pew Research Center, 50% of American households with reported incomes of less than $30,000 annually represent adults who identify as Democrats, 27% who identify as Republicans, and the remaining 23% claiming no political lean in either direction. Forty-seven percent of households with annual incomes of $100,000 or more are Republicans, 44% are Democrats, and 10% report no political preference.
Through comparison of the most current data available related to wealth distribution between Democrats and Republican by household, and examination of the relationship between car-buying trends and drivers’ self-reported political affiliations, other consumer preferences that people may be less inclined to share may be more easily illuminated and understood.