Traffic Lights on Auto Signal Right or Left Turning (Jan, 1933)

Traffic Lights on Auto Signal Right or Left Turning

Will miniature traffic lights for each car banish hand signals, and make driving safer in crowded city streets? Police officials of Oxford, England, recently saw such a system demonstrated by Sir William Morris, motor car maker. Installed in pairs one on each side of a car, and operated from a dashboard switch, the new lights use stop and go signals familiar to every motorist to warn of turns and other maneuvers. To signal a left turn, the lights first show yellow on both sides—a caution signal. Then they change automatically to red at left and green at right. The reverse of these signals is used in turning right or in pulling over to the right-hand curb to park. An all-green signal, straight on, indicates the driver will not turn at an important intersection. Signals are visible from front and rear, the front of the red light being shaded to amber because motor law’s forbid a red light facing ahead. An automatic timer in the control switch makes each signal flash several times and then puts the light out without any further attention from the driver.

  1. fluffy says: January 17, 20112:00 pm

    Overly-complicated. Even if they were to limit it to a single yellow light that flashes for “caution,” this thing will never catch on.

  2. Jari says: January 17, 20112:50 pm

    Fluffy: Exactly, this is unneeded, because we already have trafficators.

  3. Toronto says: January 17, 20114:36 pm

    Funny that they left out “RED/RED” for “Stop.”

  4. rick s. says: January 17, 20114:36 pm

    I don’t see any side view mirrors on those cars. Seems they ought to start with those first.


  5. Kosher Ham says: January 17, 20115:07 pm

    Yes and Green/Green could indicate that the vehicle is accelerating rather than just indicating steady state.

    I would also like to have forward facing red lights, but I imagine that the authorities would think different!

  6. DouglasUrantia says: January 17, 20116:16 pm

    When all the lights were flashing it meant that you were totally whacked out and had no idea what to do.

  7. Stephen says: January 18, 20115:01 am

    Something which CONFUSES other drivers makes driving more dangerous than safe. I couldn’t memorise that table of signals in a glance, and if you had to have a copy of it pinned to the dashboard for reference it would mean taking your eyes off the road every time the car ahead signalled. By the time you’d figured out what the signal meant, you might have run into the back of it.

  8. TomB says: January 18, 20116:41 am

    I wonder how many other systems someone thought up before they came up with blinkers/stop lights.

  9. Toronto says: January 18, 20119:31 am

    Stephen: You must be one of those people who get confused when a cyclist sticks out his arm, too. It’s not that complicated.

  10. JMyint says: January 18, 20119:32 am

    Semaphore turn signals were available on some European cars until the late 1950s.…

  11. GaryM says: January 18, 201110:42 am

    People could have gotten used to the system of signals; it’s no more complicated than traffic lights. The main problem is that if you can see only the signal on one side of the car (as when you’re approaching from a cross street), you wouldn’t be able to tell a “turning” signal from a “going straight ahead” signal.

  12. Tim says: January 18, 201111:45 am

    We’ve had turn signals now for a long time, but about two-thirds of the drivers out there still haven’t figured out how to use them.

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