History of Traffic Lights

Topics: Traffic light, Traffic, Roundabout Pages: 3 (860 words) Published: January 5, 2014
The traffic light is one of numerous leading aspects in our lives that we don’t appreciate anymore. The literal definition of the traffic light is a signal that uses red, green, and amber lights to control traffic. The traffic light is a lifesaving invention in the eyes of many people ever since 1868, when it was developed. Who would have predicted that a light could save multiple lives and prevent major accidents from occurring? The traffic light has transformed drastically over time. Currently, the traffic light is seen all over the world as a controlling factor, but no one values how much they provide us with.

The first ever traffic light was invented in 1868 by John Peake Knight in London, England. J P Knight was a railroad engineer and a railway manager. He specialized in designing signaling systems for Britain's growing railway network. He saw no reason why these couldn't be adapted for use on the road. Knight fell in love with trains when he was 12 and dropped out of school to work with his two brothers in the parcel room of the Midland Railway. Although Knight was the initial inventor, there were others who helped to improve the signal and develop the modern day traffic light.

The world’s first traffic light was not used for the purposes that it is used for today, directing traffic. It was used for signaling pedestrians and wagons, similar to the crosswalk light we have today to protect pedestrians. The first traffic light was a gas lantern that had the colors red and green on different sides of the lantern. Connected to the lantern was a lever that was manually operated by a police officer to turn the lantern to face the appropriate way of traffic flow. The meanings of the colors on the lantern were very similar to today’s traffic light. The color red meant to “stop,” and as we usually think of green as “go,” it actually meant, “to be cautious”. On January 2, 1869, just a year after the light was installed, the lantern had a malfunction and...
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