10 December 17: Why are they red?

I spotted this gaggle of fire trucks at a car boot sale and it got me wondering – ‘Why red?’ Henry Ford famously painted all his early motor cars black, and rumour has it that fire trucks were red so they could be visible amidst a sea of dark vehicles to encourage drivers to make way. Studies have since shown that, in spite of red being the colour we first see on the spectrum and technically the most visible, it’s not as visible as ‘lime yellow’ – a colour that is now incorporated into the colour schemes of many emergency vehicles. Even so, red has stuck, mainly because our association with a red truck is one of urgency and we’ve become programmed to move out of the way of one. Interesting, huh?

Martha, The Colour File x

©Martha Roberts

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