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Traffic Lights



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By: Gene Carla Chua

 

Traffic LightsSince the day that cars were created, automotive technology has evolved at a very fast pace. Everyone wants the most advanced and expensive car and cars are very important in our lives, but have you ever spared a thought for the humble traffic light? I mean without them, there wouldn’t be a safe haven for our cars to be in.

Commonly known as the traffic light, stop light, and traffic signal. Some may also call it traffic lamps, signal lights, even robots and semaphores. Whatever you call it, we all know what a traffic light is. We take it for granted every day, but without these, we wouldn’t be able to go to work, school or anywhere safely. Traffic lights have done a great amount of work for us, just imagine life without them. Have you ever wondered how these work?

There are two traffic light control systems adopted by most countries in the world; dynamic control and fixed time. A fixed time traffic control system is pretty simple. There is a set amount of time that one color is flashed. This system relies on an electro- mechanical signal controller. Do not be intimidated by its name, it is just a controller that moves and has a dial timer so that it can flash a given color at a fixed time.

On the other hand the dynamic control system adapts to the condition of the traffic. This dynamic system relies on a sensor. This sensor communicates with the traffic lights and gives them information about how the traffic is flowing. This control system doesn’t just change the time at which the colors light up, it also solves traffic jams. These sensors are either embedded in the road or mounted above the road. The first one uses inductive loop, so it basically just send information to the traffic light when a car passes over it. This way, the traffic light knows if there is a queue of cars, normal traffic flow, or if there are no cars at all.


This information helps the traffic light decide which color to flash. These sensors embedded on the ground, however are expensive and maintenance also costs a lot. The sensors mounted on poles above the road however, costs less in installation and maintenance. These sensors send the same information and even more. It can send real time photos, and other important data.

Now that we all know how traffic lights work, wouldn’t you want to know a little bit about its history?

  • On December 10, 1868 the first traffic light were installed
  • They were located outside the British Houses of Parliament in London installed by the railway engineer, J. P. Knight
  • In 1912 the modern traffic light was created by policeman Lester Wire, in Salt Lake City, Utah

These traffic lights play a vital role in the automotive industry, so it is also important to know about them as much as we want to explore the world of cars. As much as you hate that red light, don’t be too harsh on it. It has make the road a better and safer place. It definitely makes life easier and you can go to work and earn a living or go to your appointment without getting caught on an accident or a terrible traffic jam. Traffic lights contribute much to economics and make a place prosperous by improving efficiency on the road.

Image Source: Techrascals

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