Key Moments in the History of Traffic Lights

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Key Moments in the History of Traffic Lights

Today traffic lights are instrumental in preventing auto accidents.

Key Moments in the History of Traffic LightsDrivers ignoring or disobeying stoplights, yield signs, lane lines, speed limits, and other traffic control measures can lead to serious accidents. Fortunately, in these types of cases it is relatively easy to prove who is at fault. Breaking a traffic law is a clear sign of reckless or negligent driving, and drivers who exhibit this behavior are certainly responsible for the accidents and injuries that result. So, in a way, traffic control measures are protecting us even when they are ignored by some drivers.

Now think back about a hundred years ago. There were no traffic control measures and the roads were even more chaotic. And when injuries resulted, it was more difficult to determine who was at fault.

The introduction of traffic control measures—especially traffic lights—helped to change this. Here are some of the key moments in the history of the development of traffic lights.

1868—First traffic signal light. The first traffic signal light was actually invented in London before cities had electricity. It consisted of red and green gas lamps on a pole. Unfortunately, the first such signal to be installed exploded, killing a police officer, and no more were ever installed.

1914First electric stoplight. The first electric stoplight built from a patented design was installed in Cleveland Ohio. Designed to control traffic at a 4-way stop, it consisted of four pairs of red and green lights mounted on a pole. The light was controlled manually from a nearby booth.

1920First automated traffic lights. The first automated traffic lights operated on a timer and were erected in Los Angles in 1920. At first, these devices had only red and green lights, with a 5-second bell taking the place of the yellow light.

1920First yellow light. The first traffic light to feature a yellow light was installed in Detroit in 1920.

1952First computer-controlled traffic lights. One of the earliest and best examples of a computerized traffic light was set up in Denver in 1952. In this system, one computer controlled 120 lights based on input from pressure-sensitive devices that could detect inbound and outbound traffic.

Today, thanks to all these “firsts” in the history of traffic lights, we have advanced systems that can help keep traffic moving safely on even the busiest streets.

If a driver running a red light or otherwise disobeying a traffic signal has caused you to suffer an injury in an automobile accident, do not hesitate to consult Attorney Fernando D. Vargas for expert advice about your case. The initial consultation is always free.


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