Of course colorblindness can be a real problem in countries that give licenses to those who may not be able to distinguish green, yellow and red. We must also remember that there’s no license required to cross a street. UNISignal attempts to solve this color-recognition issue. By making each light a different shape (stop a triangle, green a square and yellow a circle), designers are hoping to make the signals even more clear.
Have you ever gotten lucky and had nothing but green lights for a long stretch? It wasn’t quite luck — you were most likely driving at an optimal speed for that road and rode what’s called a “green wave.” A few cities like Newberg, Oregon, Karkow, Poland and Kiev, Ukraine have installed signs that display what speed a driver should drive to catch the next green wave.
Traffic lights can also be part of a culture. On some pedestrian traffic lights in East Berlin you can see “Ampelmännchen,” meaning “little traffic light man” in German. The symbol, created by traffic psychologist Karl Peglau in 1961, is one of the last remaining from East Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1990 and is still an icon for the city.
The Virtual Wall is perhaps the most radical re-envisioning of the traffic light, using a beam of lasers to project a red wall depicting pedestrians in front of cars. As designer Hanyoung Lee writes on his website, “Traffic accidents are among the major causes of death in Korea,” and he believes one cause is the increasingly aggressive advertising in urban areas distracting drivers and pedestrians from traffic signals. His concept would certainly gets the message across and violators piercing the “wall” would be easy to spot.
Another, Korean designer Li Ming Hsing, has designed a traffic light that both suggests pedestrians stretch during downtime and to look both ways even when the light is green. “At the traffic light, children tend to run across the street right after the signal turning into green, or even before the light changed,” explains Li Ming Hsing. “[That’s why] if we add ‘the graphic of looking for cars toward both sides, right and left,’ at green signal, we can warn children before they cross the street and that can prevent our children from car accidents.” You can even watch as the animated person jumps from one square to the other.