Aug 12

Happy 101st Birthday to the Traffic Light!


traffic lightLast week, we celebrated the 101st birthday of the first electric traffic light. Even back then, people knew of the dangers of accidents at intersections.

According to, the first center painted dividing line appeared in Michigan in 1911. Although that helped, accidents continued. Thus, the world’s first electric traffic signal was put up at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio on August 5, 1914. Later, the first “No Left Turn” sign would debut in Buffalo, New York in 1916. Sadly, accidents continue. In fact, approximately 40% of the deadly car accidents in American occur at or near intersections.

The first traffic light was based on a design by James Hoge, who received a patent for his “Municipal Traffic Control System” in 1918. His design consisted of four pairs of red and green lights that served as stop-go indicators, each mounted on a corner post. Wired to a manually operated switch inside a control booth, the system was configured so that conflicting signals were impossible. Hoge’s design had a buzzer to indicate the light was changing instead of a yellow light. The first four-way, three-color traffic light was created by police officer William Potts in Detroit, Michigan in 1920.

However, the history of the first traffic light is not without controversy. In Utah, it is claimed that the first traffic light was created by Lester Wire when he mounted a handmade wooden box with colored red and green lights on a pole, with the wires attached to overhead trolley and light wires.

Drivers should be thankful for whoever created the first traffic light. Over its 101 years, it is saved the life of many drivers. However, intersections remain very dangerous, especially when vehicles are turning left. All drivers should pay close attention when approaching intersections and look forward drivers that may be turning left in front of them. A little extra attention on your part could make up for the lack of attention on another driver’s part.

Happy Belated Birthday to traffic lights! Drive safely and watch out for those who don’t!


Mathew NoyesPersonal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is named partner of the Clearwater law firm Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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