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GOOD Design Daily: Eight Smarter Traffic Lights

Our traffic light hasn't kept up with the innovation offered in our vehicles. These eight concepts improve our ability to stop and go.

If you stop to think about it, the humble traffic light, which began appearing on streets in the 1900s, hasn't really evolved at the same rate as our now highly-intelligent vehicles. Even pedestrian crosswalks have a digitized countdown showing walkers how much time is left, while drivers are left guessing just how much yellow is left in that light—often choosing to err on the side of a potential accident. Over at Web Urbanist, they've collected eight innovative traffic lights that have discovered smarter ways to tell vehicles when it's OK to go.


This hourglass light helps solve several problems with a large LED screen that changes from green to yellow to red, all while dropping grains of colored "sand" to show how much time drivers have left to make it through the intersection.

Speaking of color, something that our traditional traffic lights don't do is acknowledge the fact that some drivers are colorblind. The UNISignal pairs each color with a recognizable shape, which could even help drivers who glance too quickly at the light.

Charmingly lo-tech, the Marshalite, named after Charles Marshall, who designed it in 1936, is definitely the most transparent when it comes to showing drivers how much time they have left, while allowing drivers to see what's happening on the other side of the intersection. While the use of light was discontinued in the 1970s in Australia, it could offer some cues for a more contemporary design.

See all eight concepts over at Web Urbanist.



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