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Can You Take The "I" Out Of Traffic?

May 22, 2008
My grandmother believed traffic was one of God's ways to teach patience. Well, the next time you're waiting for a red light to turn green you can think about William Potts. William Potts, a Detroit policeman, used red, amber and green railroad lights and about $37 worth of wire and electrical controls to invent the first, four-way traffic light. It was installed at a major, Detroit intersection in 1920; and within a year 14 more traffic lights were installed. Unfortunately, Officer Potts' invention didn't light up his own life. Because he was a government employee, he wasn't allowed to patent it.

Some government employees put up road signs. The shape of these signs gives us information. Diamond-shape signs give us warnings and octagonal-shape signs tell us to stop. If a triangular sign is isosceles, it means no passing; if it's equilateral, it means yield. Knowing the significance of the shape of road signs enables us to react to them more quickly - which puts us in good shape.

The color of road signs also gives us information. For example, warning signs are yellow and service signs are blue. Green and white signs regulate parking, but red and white signs prohibit it. Although we all know stop signs are red, we forget that police see red if we ignore any road sign.

Too many of us ignore being tired when we drive. According to the National Sleep Foundation, two-thirds of American adults have sleep disorders; and 23% of those adults admit to having fallen asleep while they were driving. Sleep deprivation affects coordination, reaction time and judgment. It can be as dangerous for drivers as alcohol consumption. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 100,000 crashes every year are fatigue-related. Although most of these accidents occur very early in the morning or early to mid-afternoon, our fast-paced lifestyles translate to road accidents waiting to happen - a fact we need to wake up to.

As our highways and freeways get more crowded, there are more reports of road rage. Drivers who are frustrated by not being able to get where they want to go are taking their frustrations out on other drivers. Their frustrations run the gamut from finger signals to car damage. Because 66% of annual, driving fatalities are caused by aggressive driving, we should have a few sanity questions on our written, driving tests. Maybe that would prevent a few "cartastrophes".
About the Author
KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
Take a minute to make yourself smile at
http://knightwatch.typepad.com
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