Could We Live Without Traffic Lights?

2023-12-30 00:00:00 / episode: 348


Could we live without traffic lights

Traffic lights were first invented in 1868.

They were used in front of parliament in England but they weren't popular and in fact the first one kind of exploded and it injured the policeman who is beside it.

those traffic lights weren't used for cars, they were used for carriages.

however his cars came on the scene the need for traffic lights became apparent.

hi and welcome to the last Paris podcast Episode 348. this podcast is about traffic lights.

The First

It wasn't until 1920 that they invented the yellow light to complement the red and green lights.

the problem was, there were too many accidents with only red and green

because people would race or go through the red

when they thought it wasn't going to be red.

the yellow was a warning saying it's about to turn to red

and so people could avoid collisions.


imagine a world where we don’t have traffic signals.

it might sound chaotic to you

but researchers at MIT have done some computer modeling

and they're testing it in a town in Britain right now.

all the cars are in constant communication with a central computer.

the computer is able to measure the speed,

And location of the cars and the distance between the cars.

it knows which car has to speed up or slow down

prior to going through the intersection.

the computer can make the car slow down or speed up accordingly.

then the cars can flow through the intersections

without hitting each other because they are timed perfectly by the computer.

the computer testing Works magnificently.


this system is already in use in airports.

air traffic controllers are constantly telling airplanes to speed up or slow down

so that they can be arriving on the runway or taking off from the runway

At precisely the right time

so that no other airplane is around

and there are no accidents.

Not Yet

the same system cannot be used for cars today

because the drivers won't obey.

but with Wi-Fi and a governing computer this could happen.

this could be a part of our future.

they say itwill be a lot more relaxing for the drivers.

it's much better for the environment

because you don't have cars coming to a complete stop.

and on top of all that,

you can get way more traffic through the same intersection.

Time spent Waiting

they reckon that you can get about twice as much traffic through the intersection.

another benefit is that drivers don't have to spend their time waiting at the intersection.

there are some statistics that say that European drivers spend hours every year waiting at intersections.

Another statistic says that Americans spend about 60 hours waiting at intersections on average every year.

it would be wonderful if we could save some of that time for other,

more pleasant activities.

With the increasing quality of driverless cars this may be a thing of the future

sooner than we have imagined.

we'll have fewer traffic jams,

get to our destination faster,

and be more relaxed in general.

if we can make this system work.

I'm looking forward to a life without traffic signals

Thanks for listening