July 12, 2010


The first traffic lights were introduced in 1868 outside the Houses of Parliament in London. The lights used red and green gas lamps with a lever at the base to show the appropriate light. However, this exploded shortly after and it was not until 1912 that the first electric traffic light was invented.

The first three-colour traffic light, much like we use today was introduced in 1920.

The colour red and green used to represent stop and go is thought to derive from maritime rules whereby, port (red) and starboard (green).

You will find that the red light contains some orange in it and the green contains some blue, this is in place to support those with red-green colour blindness.

Alarmingly over half of the UK population do not know their traffic light sequence.

Surveys have revealed that only 48% of those asked correctly identified that the colour that follows an amber light is red. The rest of the population thought it was a green light that followed an amber signal. This is extremely worrying when amber is preparing us to stop.

The correct traffic light sequence is as follows:

Red: Stop and wait behind the stop line

Red and Amber: Stop at the stop line. Do not pass until the green light shows

Green: You may continue ahead if the way forward is clear

Amber: Stop at the stop line. You can only pass through an amber light if you have already crossed the stop line or are so close that to stop might cause an accident

Natasha Simper of Britannia Driving School said: “Interestingly in the Philippines on a Sunday, they often turn the traffic light off. However, this is only as dangerous as over half the UK population not knowing the correct traffic light sequence. If you are a car or motorcycle driver and feel rusty, take a look at the Highway Code and familiarise yourself with the rules of the road, you may be surprised at how much you had forgotten.”

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