Blondes Prefer Red and Other Automotive Theories

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

I know you car guys normally deal with the mechanical nuts and bolts of the auto industry, but what do you think of these two theories my wife believes? She says most red cars are driven by blondes. Do you guys think this is true? Her second theory is on the safety factor of day time driving lights now being implemented by car manufacturers on 1995 and 1996 models. She says they will be ineffective once everyone becomes accustomed to seeing headlights in the day time. What do you say to that?


RAY: Well, on the first point, she's absolutely right, Patrick. Not only are most red cars driven by blondes, but our internal surveys show that 86.4% of them are blondes named "Donna."

TOM: But I disagree with her about the daytime running lights. Her point is that when you see a car with headlights on during the day now, you notice it because it's different. But once all cars have headlights on in the day time, she thinks you won't notice them anymore, and the safety advantage will disappear.

RAY: I don't think so either. Cars with headlights on will always stand out. Why? Because the headlights will always be brighter than the objects around them.

TOM: If you're driving down a two lane road, and up ahead you see the road, some rocks, a bunch of trees, and a car, the headlights of that car are going to catch your eye because they're brighter than the road, the trees, the rocks, and the rest of the car. And even if you're used to seeing cars with their headlights on during the day, they're still going to help you notice THAT car relative to that car's surroundings.

RAY: The same thing is true in the city. If a gray car comes out from behind a gray building at noon, those headlights are going to help you notice the car at that moment, even if other cars around you also have their headlights on.

TOM: When roads, trees, rocks, and buildings start coming equipped with daytime running lights, then your wife will have a valid point, Patrick. But as long as they're limited to cars, I think daytime running lights will always make cars more visible.

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