CHICAGO — A new study finds that taxi cabs painted yellow are 9 percent less likely to be involved in accidents than ones painted blue.
The researchers came to the conclusion after studying three years of traffic statistics in Singapore. "Yellow is more noticable than blue taxis, especially when in front of another vehicle and in street lighting," they write in the report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.
The study by Teck-Hua Ho, Juin Kuan Ching and Xiaoyu Xia said yellow taxis had 6.1 fewer accidents per month than blue taxis.
The researchers say that yellow has been "a popular color for taxis since 1907, when the Chicago Yellow Cab Company chose the color based on a survey conducted at the University of Chicago."
That U of C survey showed that yellow was the most noticeable color, which would "make it easy for potential passengers to spot a yellow taxi in the sea of mass-produced black cars prevalent at the time," they write.
"More than a century later, it turns out that yellow was a wise choice, not only for potential passengers but also for actual passengers because yellow taxis seem to have fewer accidents than blue taxis," the researchers say.
Yellow Cab Co of Chicago was started by John Hertz and partner Walden W. Shaw who turned used cars into taxis, according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago. Hertz, a German immigrant who came to Chicago when he was five, sold the company in 1929 to focus on renting cars.
The origin of taxi yellow has been disputed, with some noting that some early cabs that pre-dated Hertz's Chicago operation in New York were painted yellow as well as green and red.
As of 2013, white was the most popular color for cabs in Chicago, with 3,251. Yellow followed with 1,581.