What Would Traffic Be Like Without the Yellow Light?
Who was Garrett Morgan?
With only an elementary school education, Garrett Morgan, a Black man, was born on March 4, 1877, in Paris, Kentucky. He began his career as a sewing machine mechanic and went on to patent several inventions, including the improved sewing machine, a hair-straightening product, and a respiratory device - the precursor to the gas mask used in WWI. He was also a community leader.
In 1923, Morgan created a new kind of traffic signal, one with a warning light to alert drivers that they would need to stop, after witnessing a carriage accident at a problematic intersection in Cleveland, Ohio. Morgan, the first Black man in Cleveland to own a car, quickly acquired patents for his traffic signal-an early version of the modern three-way traffic light-in the United States, Britain, and Canada. He eventually sold the rights for the traffic signal to General Electric for $40,000. Morgan died on July 27, 1963, at age 86, and is buried at the Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.
A safety reminder: Does a yellow light mean stop?
A yellow signal warns you that the red signal is about to appear. When motorists see the yellow light, they should stop, if they can do so safely. If a motorist can't stop, look out for vehicles that may enter the intersection when the light changes.
The flashing yellow light means: "proceed with caution." Traffic facing the yellow light has the right-of-way, but oncoming traffic usually also has a flashing yellow light, and cross-traffic will have a flashing red light.
Many innovations have been added to Morgan's invention over the years, but the same basic principle has remained the same. Find out how one cutting-edge Hillsborough program keeps the signals going even when the power is out.