101 Years of the Traffic Light

August saw the 101st anniversary of the traffic light. Traffic lights have come a long way since they were first introduced, starting out as gas lamps to now being electronically automated. Technology for traffic lights is now going through a period of change.

A revolutionary new system has been implemented in the North East ambulance service, allowing the paramedics to be able to talk to the Urban Traffic Management Control (UTMC) and change the traffic lights from red to green. Meaning that paramedics do not have to stop at every traffic light due to traffic, and can cut down the time it takes the paramedics to arrive at an emergency, or how long it takes to get the patient to hospital. The aim of the system’s trial is to cut down the carbon foot print in the area but most importantly to improve patient care. Smart traffic light systems like this are the future.

So, in honour of the Traffic Light’s birthday, here are 10 facts that you might not know about the humble traffic light.

– The first electric traffic light was installed in Cleveland, Ohio, on 5th August 1914.

  • The first electric traffic light in Britain was installed in 1925, and were operated by a police officers until the first automated traffic lights became available in 1927.
  • The fist non-electric traffic lights were manual and were gas operated, and hung outside of the Houses of Parliament in 1868…

-… these didn’t last long, as four weeks after being installed they exploded injuring a police officer.

  • Traffic lights colours are Green and Red because those colours were already being used on the train lines.
  • Originally there was no Amber traffic light

– Monty Python released a song about traffic lights called ‘I Like Traffic Lights’.

– The red traffic light has a longer wave length so can be seen from further away compared to the green traffic light’s shorter wave length. The sooner you see the light the sooner you hit the brakes!

– Future traffic lights will sync to your phone and may even talk to your car’s navigation system and display how fast the driver needs to travel at to avoid red traffic light signals!

  • Traffic lights were invented before cars and electricity!