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History of Traffic Lights

Traffic lights are encountered every day by drivers. They help guide our daily commute and safely navigate busy intersections. Stoplights are imperative to assure that traffic is flowing smoothly. Do you know the history behind the creation of the first traffic light? 

The city streets were starting to become busy with the amount of automobiles and horse-drawn carriages in the late 19th century. This congestion on the roads without traffic control became a growing problem to be solved. In 1868, an engineer named J.P. Knight designed a manually operated traffic signal in London, England. It was controlled by a police officer in a nearby booth and fueled by gas lamps. This was a start to using visual signals to manage traffic but there was still a need for the traffic control to function without human intervention. 

Then came the electric traffic light inverted by Lester Wire in 1912.  The first electric traffic light had only a red and green function and was controlled by a timer.  By 1914, the first electric light was fully installed in a Cleveland, Ohio intersection. It proved to make the intersection more efficient and much safer to all the drivers on the road. 

The three color traffic light that we see today was invented in 1920. It was important to add the extra warning-yellow light so drivers had time to make a complete stop before the red light appeared. This design was the best option that is still used to this day!

The first stoplight took a while to evolve into the traffic lights we use today. Without it, we would not have the same amount of safety and efficiency as we have on the roads today. A daily reminder to be grateful for the inventors who had made our modern world easier to navigate to allow for safe driving.


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Learned a lot and was able to learn it in a timely matter..
Adam S.
Great Success!.
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Course was easy to read! Very satisfied with my traffic school experience with you guys!.
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