LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - Green means "go." Yellow means "slow down." Red means "stop." All our lives, that's been the color-coding for motorists, and we've had it drilled into our heads and reinforced via traffic laws.

It's never fun to get ticket for running a red light. It's even less fun to get into an accident at one because you weren't paying attention.

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The first electric traffic light was installed in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1914. Developed by James Hoge, this early version featured red and green lights operated by a manually operated switch. However, it lacked the amber caution light we see today.

In 1920, William Potts, a police officer in Detroit, Michigan, introduced the modern three-color traffic signal with red, amber, and green lights. Potts' design included a timer to regulate the sequence of lights, improving traffic flow and safety.

Over the decades, traffic lights continued to evolve, incorporating innovations such as sensors, timers, and programmable control systems. These advancements allowed traffic lights to adapt to changing traffic patterns and improve efficiency.

Today, electric traffic lights are an essential part of urban infrastructure worldwide, helping to regulate traffic, prevent accidents, and manage congestion. They continue to undergo technological advancements, including the integration of smart technologies for real-time monitoring and control, ensuring safer and more efficient transportation systems for modern cities.

However, that familiar color code may be changing, if some reports are to be believed.

According to the website TrafficTechnologyToday, some folks are suggesting a fourth, 'white' light to be a part of our country's intersections. They refer to an academic paper proposing the addition light in order to accommodate self-driving vehicles.

"It proposes adding a ‘white phase’ to current signals, with a new white light telling human drivers to simply follow the car in front of them, while red would continue to mean stop, green would still mean go, and amber would still urge caution and signal ‘prepare to stop’," the site explained. "Red light enforcement measures would continue, as a red light would still require a vehicle to stop and not proceed through the intersection."

One of the researchers for the paper explained their reasoning.

“We have compared our results with different benchmarks, but perhaps an interesting one is comparing the white phase concept to the same intersection with identical traffic volume and CAV penetration without the white phase," Dr Ali Hajbabaie said.

“When autonomous vehicles are 10% of the traffic stream, the white phase reduces the travel delay by 3%,” said Ramin Niroumand, the lead author of the research paper. “When 50% of traffic is comprised of autonomous vehicles, the white phase reduces travel delay by 10% in our test intersection,” he continues. “For fuel consumption, when the autonomous vehicle market share is 10%, we observed a 1% reduction. With 90% CAVs, we observed a 13% reduction in fuel consumption.”

Do you think it would be well-received in Louisiana? Given how some of our drivers treat "Stop" signs as suggestions, we're not too sure.

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Gallery Credit: Joe Cunningham