What happened 101 years ago today? The first electric traffic light was installed!

August 5th, 2015 by

electric traffic light

First electric traffic light installed 101 years ago

How much do you think traffic signals affect the way we drive? Can you imagine driving without having traffic lights to direct us? It’s pretty safe to say the roads would be a lot different without stoplights, much like they were 101 years ago. On this day, August 5, 1914, the first electric traffic light was installed in Cleveland, Ohio.

Not the first-ever traffic light…

electric traffic lightThe traffic light installed in Cleveland 101 years ago was not the first traffic light ever. In England in 1868, London police officers placed a traffic signal to control the road outside the Houses of Parliament. This signal, however, was made out of gas and had to be controlled manually by an officer. Just a month after the signal was put up, an unfortunate gas leak caused an explosion, killing the man controlling the light. Needless to say, the gas stoplight project was left to the wayside.

First electric light only displayed red and green

But what about yellow lights? The first electric traffic light switched between red and green, utilizing a loud bell sound to warn drivers the light was about to change. In 1920, the yellow light was incorporated into the stoplight to replace the bell as a cautionary signal. In fact, the red, yellow, and green color scheme stems from signals used to direct trains on the railroads since the 1830s.

So, how different do you think the roads would be without stoplights? They would be more dangerous and chaotic. That’s for sure! Now, think about how much can possibly change on the roads over the next 101 years–the options are endless!

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