If you drive a black car, watch out. A new study drawing on 20 years of research indicates that black-coloured cars are more likely to be involved in crashes.

Researchers from the University of Monash in Melbourne, Australia, looked at police records for 850,000 crashes for information on the vehicles involved, the time of day and other circumstances.

They took into account the fact that drivers who take risks might be drawn to particular colours: black is a popular choice for sports and high-performance models. But even allowing for this they discovered that some paint shades racked up more crashes.

Grey and silver cars were the next most risky followed by red and blue, the researchers reported in the journal Safety Science. White, gold and yellow were the safest. Researcher Dr Stuart Newstead reported that while colour was a factor in accidents it was less important than other dangers. Drink-driving and speeding remained the biggest causes of road crashes.