The world's first
traffic lights were installed near London's House
of Commons (intersection of George and Bridge
Streets) in 1868. They were invented by J P
Among the many early traffic signals or lights
created the following are noted:
* Earnest Sirrine of Chicago, Illinois patented
(976,939) perhaps the first automatic street
traffic system in 1910. Sirrine's system used the
non illuminated words "stop" and "proceed".
Lester Wire of Salt Lake City, Utah invented
(unpatented) an electric traffic light in 1912
that used red and green lights.
* James Hoge patented (1,251,666) manually
controlled traffic lights in 1913, which were
installed in Cleveland, Ohio a year later by the
American Traffic Signal Company. Hoge's
electric-powered lights used the illuminated words
"stop" and "move".
* William Ghiglieri of San Francisco, California
patented (1,224,632) perhaps the first automatic
traffic signal using colored lights (red and
green) in 1917. Ghiglieri's traffic signal had the
option of being either manual or automatic.
* Around 1920, William Potts a Detroit policeman,
invented (unpatented) several automatic electric
traffic light systems including an overhanging
four-way, red, green, and yellow light system. The
first to use a yellow light.
Garrett Morgan was issued a patent for an
inexpensive to produce manual traffic signal in
indications of constructed roads date from about
4000 BC and consist of stone paved streets at Ur
in modern-day Iraq and timber roads preserved in
a swamp in Glastonbury, England.
Late 1800s Road Builders
The road builders of the late 1800s depended
solely on stone, gravel and sand for
construction. Water would be used as a binder to
give some unity to the road surface.
John Metcalfe, a Scot born in 1717, built about
180 miles of roads in Yorkshire, England (even
though he was blind). His well drained roads
were built with three layers: large stones;
excavated road material; and a layer of gravel.
Modern tarred roads were the result of the work
of two Scottish engineers, Thomas Telford and
John Loudon McAdam. Telford designed the system
of raising the foundation of the road in the
center to act as a drain for water. Thomas
Telford (born 1757) improved the method of
building roads with broken stones by analyzing
stone thickness, road traffic, road alignment
and gradient slopes. Eventually his design
became the norm for all roads everywhere. John
Loudon McAdam (born 1756) designed roads using
broken stones laid in symmetrical, tight
patterns and covered with small stones to create
a hard surface. McAdam's design, called "macadam
roads," provided the greatest advancement in
In India, The most famous road was the
GRAND TRUNK ROAD, built by SHER SHAH SURI in
the pre - historic times.
was initially built by Sher Shah to connect
Agra, his capital,
hometown. It was soon extended westward to
Multan and eastward
Bengal (now in
Bangladesh). The Grand Trunk Road continues to
be one of the major arteries of
Pakistan. For four
centuries, the Grand Trunk Road has remained
"such a river of life as nowhere else exists
in the world".
Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) is the largest
India launched by
former prime minister
Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
consists of building 5,846 kilometres of
four/six lane express highways connecting
Chennai (thus forming
a quadrilateral of sorts)
Laws regulating the
direction of traffic began hundreds of years
before the automobile was even invented.
England was the first country to establish any
kind of law regarding its roads. In 1555, a
law was passed requiring people to keep the
roads in front of their property repaired at
their own expense.
Because of this unpopular law, the people made
the roads very narrow, creating problems for
horseback riders and carriages. Some people
favored the ancient Roman traffic pattern of
traveling on the right, while others preferred
the pattern used by knights, on the left.
Then in 1756, Parliament passed a law for
traffic on London Bridge, requiring all
traffic to keep to the left. It wasn't until
1835 that this law for left-handed traffic was
expanded to include the whole country.
In France in the 17th century, King Louis XIV
realized that the streets of Paris were too
narrow for two carriages to pass each other at
the same time, so he ordered that the carriage
belonging to the less important man back up
and let the other pass. This, of course, led
to many arguments in the streets. Men stood
outside their carriages shouting their
complete family histories to prove they were
The first traffic law in North America was
enacted in 1787. It stated that carriages,
wagons, or sleighs heading north had to back
up or turn aside to let those heading south
have the right of way.