Does the color of a fire truck make a difference?

Fire departments that redesign their engines should perhaps think twice about the coloring they use for truck decals, logos and other displays. Although many factors could influence what the dominant color of a truck is, the end result has an impact on how the vehicle is received by the public and the impression it gives to onlookers. Emergency vehicles aren't primarily valued for their looks, of course, but appearances still say a lot about the truck.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal recently reported on a redesign for a fire truck that added a new logo as well as a striking new shade of blue, the official color in the logo of the city of Palm Coast, Florida. This hue can be seen in both the front of the fire engine's cab and a stripe running around its body, and will be added to future trucks when they get upgraded.

Blue works for this particular truck, but according to an article on the American Psychological Association website, the best color for a fire engine is actually lime green or yellow. While this doesn't mean it's always best for a fire vehicle to be this color, the source cites psychological research on which colors are most visible.

"This research shows that because the color-transmitting cones in our eyes don't work well in the dark, some colors are easier for us to see at night," the article reads "We are most sensitive to greenish-yellow colors under dim conditions, making lime shades easiest to see in low lighting." Bright yellow emergency vehicles are also statistically less likely to get in accidents than red and white ones the source said.

With custom vehicle wraps, essential emergency departments exercise a little more control over the color of their vehicles and perhaps influence their safety and performance as well.