100th Anniversary of Traffic Light System

On this day in history, road accidents suddenly measured a drop. All those impatient motorists and drivers had bosses now, i.e. three differently colored dots. In memory of those bosses, google dedicates this Friday’s doodle to the saviors, without whom the roads would have been much more dangerous, and drivers, much more radical.

Today is 10th anniversary of Electric Traffic Light System. Let us know a little more about them.

First Non Electric, Gas lit traffic light was installed in 1868 outside the House of Parliament in London to control the traffic in Bridge Street, Parliament Street and Great George Street. It consisted of Red and Green lamps for night time use which were manually controlled by a police constable. He would manually turn them so that the traffic can see the appropriate light. This was tough, error-prone, time consuming, and required a person to be stationed at every signal.

It did help to curb the traffic for a brief time as one of the gas lines exploded underneath the pavement, severely injuring and killing the policemen who were operating it. But the remedy was not out for a long time.

One this day, back in 1914, American Traffic Signal Company installed a traffic light system in Ohio. It had two colors, just like the Gas Lit light in London. It also had a buzzer which provided a warning signal indicating color change. It was meticulously planned and designed by James Hoge, which installed a special provision in the light system with which Police or Fire Stations could override the automatic change in colors during emergencies.

It kept evolving from then on, adding traffic light indicators for pedestrians, introducing yellow light etc. However, it wasn’t until 1990 that the countdown timers came into use, allowing us to judge whether we have enough time to cross the road before the light changes.

These days, traffic light system has grown highly sophisticated, having a large number of devices per signal, featuring signals that are flexible, have special signals for bikes, buses etc.

While most of the world would indulge in chaotic road rage with failure of even one Traffic light, some cities still work pretty smooth without them. One such is Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, where even the busiest intersections run smooth without a Traffic Light.