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Wednesday, 16 August 1972
Page: 109

Senator WILLESEE asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice:

(1)   Is the Minister aware that cars which are coloured black absorb heat more readily, and suffer higher interior temperatures, than cars of lighter colour.

(2)   Has the Minister seen reports on research which shows that black coloured cars are more prone to accident that white cars.

(3)   Will the Minister take steps to phase-out black coloured cars from the Commonwealth Transport Service and have them replaced by cars of a lighter colour.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN The Minister for Supply has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   My Department's experience and practical tests indicate that interior temperatures in black cars exposed to direct sunlight when stationary are higher than in lightercoloured cars in similar circumstances, the absolute difference being greater when windows are closed. For general use the internal temperature is also influenced by the upholstery type and colour, the insulation between interior and engine and roof, and the ventilation. Higher internal temperatures are usually welcome in winter.

(2)   I am aware of reports on research into the relationship between the colour of cars and accident rates. Some, though not all, conclude that black cars do tend to have a higher accident rate than lighter coloured cars.

(3)   My Department controls approximately 5,000 vehicles of which a considerable number are made available on a permanent hire basis to other Departments. Approximately 2,000 of these are buses or transport trucks and trailers and other non-passenger carrying types . Until quite recently practically all of these were coloured light grey, but since 1971 newly purchased or repainted vehicles have been a. combination of yellow and white. The transition will be complete in approximately 3 years. There are 2,500 passengercarrying vehicles of which only some 400 are black. The other approximately 2,100 are light blue with white roofs, and I have recently instructed that replacements shall be in white. The black cars, practically all of which are driven by professional department drivers, are often used on ceremonial and official occasions, for which it has been considered the most appropriate colour is black.

For about 10 months this question has been under review, with reference to research material. A report of the expert group on road safety established under the chairmanship of. Mr Justice Meares by my colleague the Minister for Shipping and Transport is to advise on theroad accident situation in Australia and to report on fundamental causes and ways and means of reducing the road toll.

In addition, on llth May 1972, the. House of Representatives appointed a Select Committee on Road Safety. I would anticipate that that Committee will take vehicle colour into account in its deliberations.

I am keeping the matter under active consideration and findings of both these bodies will be closely examined.

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