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Traffic Light Systems Essay

1653 words - 7 pages

London, in 1868, became the first city in the world to install and enjoy the services of the world’s maiden traffic light (This Day in History, 2011). This traffic light was established by a legendary railway engineer by the name John Peak Knight but the actual construction work was done by Saxby & Farmer Railway Signal Engineers. This traffic light control system was placed at the intersection of Gorge and Bridge Street (This Day in History, 2011). Physically, the traffic light was 22 feet tall and had arms that were extended horizontally and lowered at an angle (Vaunt Design Group, 2006). Fortunately or unfortunately, the traffic light was not automatically controlled. Therefore, it had to ...view middle of the document...

In America, the increasing number of the automobiles in the streets caused lots of navigation problems and this made a police officer, by the name William Potts, to come up with a solution (Vaunt Design Group, 2006). Potts’ idea was to adapt the railway control signals into the streets to control the increasing traffic in Detroit. In the year 1920, Potts’ idea paid off when the first four-way traffic light was installed on Woodward and Michigan corner (Vaunt Design Group, 2006). This light used three colors and it was electric.
Garrett Morgan is highly respected for seeing and acting on a need to control traffic flow. He realized this goal by establishing an automatic traffic light that was electrically powered. His design was more like that of the Semaphore signals. He sold the patent to General Electric Corporation (Badon, 2010).
Challenges that faced development of the traffic light system
The most ever challenging thing to the traffic light system is the increasing number of traffic. Since the invention of the first traffic light system, more and more automobiles hit the road. Fast advancing road technology is also another challenge that has constantly kept traffic light designers thinking all through. For example, modern road systems have more than just a four-way junction and still needs a system to monitor traffic in such a complex situation. This means designers have to think beyond the normal limits. It is actually due to these challenges that traffic light system is still evolving at a fast rate.
Since the establishment of the first traffic light, there have been safety challenges all through. For example, as stated earlier, the first traffic light system installed had some safety issues. It exploded and killed the operator. This was something that had not been anticipated. Also malfunctioning of the traffic lights cause fatalities at interjections and this remains to be a challenge especially when traffic safety is assessed.
Initial traffic inventions were manually controlled. The aspect of them being manually controlled meant that they needed somebody to be there to operate them and this seemed to make no much difference to what used to happen before its introduction. The only difference that is there is perhaps the work of the police officer was reduced. However, technology change is evolving fast and application of the same in traffic control is happening but lacking cohesion. It is lacking cohesion in the sense that the designers are mostly university trained engineers who lack adequate correlation between what they study in textbooks and what is happening in the real traffic flow. They assume traffic is a fixed thing whereas it is not. In addition to this, the designers design and handover the work to technicians thus complicating the technology use. If these systems were designed by people who have a full background of the workings of a traffic flow, perhaps there would be high level of correlation.

How the System has...

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