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It’s Almost Time For A Fourth Color On The Traffic Light


In the never ending quest to make our roads safer, we have tried almost everything. We have altered the way intersections are designed. We have added every kind of technology possibly imaginable to our cars. We have modernized test dummies to help determine and avoid injuries. But there’s one thing that has remained relatively consistent, despite all the technology: the design of our traffic signals.

The Fourth Color

Yes, Green, yellow and red have been there since the very first day, and remain there to this day, unaltered and unchanged throughout time. But for the first time, researchers are asking whether a fourth color is needed (the study proposed the color as white, although really, any color will suffice).

This is a bit misleading because the fourth color is not actually one that would be used today, for today’s cars, on today’s roadways. Rather, they would be an adaptation made necessary by the anticipated increase in self driving vehicles.

What the Color Does

The white (or whatever color) light would indicate that the driver is no longer in control of his or her car, and that the car needs only to follow the car in front of it. No stopping, or slowing down or human intervention is needed; simply allow the vehicle to take over, and follow the car in front.

The traffic light would also potentially interact with your car (and other cars), indicating to you that the light is communicating with the vehicles, and thus, the light has “taken over,” and is directing the vehicle on its own. This is done in a way to keep traffic flowing, much like a line of ants all dutifully following each other. Think of the white light as telling the driver that cars are “speaking” with each other, and the traffic light, so the driver knows that the computers are in control (as scary as that may sound).

The white light would also tell people driving non-AVs that the other drivers are not in control of their cars but rather, the cars (or computers) are, and that human drivers should just react to what the other cars are doing (i.e., stop if the car in front stops or go if it goes).

In computer models, the white lights kept traffic flowing more efficiently, and safer.

Why No Changes?

The advent of the AV is one reason why traffic signals are simply so old. The time that it takes to overhaul the entire United States traffic signal system, with the uniformity needed to be safe, would take so long that by the time it is implemented, autonomous vehicles would be on the roads, and those vehicles need their own traffic signals.

That means it is likely that there will be some wait before new traffic signals come about, likely coinciding with the proliferation of AVs.

Call the Knoxville car accident lawyers at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today for help after any kind of car accident.




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