In 1914, the first electric traffic signal in the world was put on the corner of East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue and in Cleveland, Ohio. Navigating the roads used to be chaotic with streetcars, bicycles pedestrians and horses all competing for the right of way. Before the first World War, it became clear that there needed to be some type of regulation put in place to keep traffic moving and people (and animals) safe.
This system installed on August 5, 1914, in Cleveland was based on a design by James Hoge, who was given a patent for his “Municipal Traffic Control System” in 1918. This system had four pairs of green and red lights mounted on a corner post that acted as stop-go indications. They were queued by a manually operated switch that was located inside the control booth. The design was configured in a way that made signals that conflict impossible. The first four-way and three-color traffic were introduced in 1920 by William Potts, the main police Detroit, Michigan. In addition to red and green, a 3rd color, yellow, came onto the scene.
Traffic lights offer many benefits and have improved the world of driving in significant ways. They provide the maximum degree of control at intersections by relaying messages of both what to do and what not to do. The light assigns the right of way to competing directions of traffic at an intersection. Ultimately, they allow for the orderly movement of conflicting flows. When correctly timed, it is an in incredibly value device for increasing the safety and efficiency of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
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