Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Shaped traffic lights

Easily distinguished by the color deficient
  [vote for,

I'm colorblind, you see.... actually it's really mild, in my case, but I STILL can't tell the difference between a flashing yellow/flashing red at night. Daytime is no problem, since I can see the position the offending light relative to the other two. At night, unless there happens to be a streetlamp right behind the traffic signal, I can't see the positions, and am left trying to decifer a blinking orange ball. Frustrating... and kind of dangerous. And I might even be at risk of having restrictions put on my license.

My simple (cheap!) solution: vinyl stickers that convert the red and yellow lights into square and triangle, respectively. Leave green round... or leave red round and change green.. Or leave both red and green round, but just change yellow. So a blinking ROUND orange light means "stop" and a blinking triangular orange light means "proceed with caution". I've worked in signage before, it's CHEAP to make a bunch of black round stickers with big triangles or squares missing from the middle of them. So there's no need for new lights, it's just a matter of putting stickers on the old ones. Hell, I'd even volunteer my time, just so I don't have to alter my route home anymore to avoid the light-heavy areas.

And even for you full-spectrum viewers, it wouldn't hurt to have two associations (color and shape) to say "stop!"

MuddyBuddy, Feb 19 2004

(?) UK traffic lights http://www.thinkroa...e/trafficlights.htm
Shows the border that surrounds the lights for easier identification. [oneoffdave, Oct 17 2004]

(?) Unilights http://www.unilights.com/product_list.htm
Colours and shapes and lots of LEDs :) [benjamin, Oct 17 2004]

(?) Colorblind Test http://www.precisio...colorblind_test.jpg
Does this work? [ConsultingDetective, Oct 17 2004]


       // Frustrating... and kind of dangerous. And I might even be at risk of having restrictions put on my license.//   

       I think I stopped reading right there because instead of gaining my sympathy, you just gave me one more reason to stay inside the house, lock the doors and wonder about the kind of people who would willfully put others at risk for their own convenience.   

       Actually, I think your idea has merit. But traffic signal masks already exist in a variety of configurations. The most common shaped traffic signal icons would include the left and right turn arrow at intersections, pedestrian walk/don't walk signals, and lane closure and directional signals used on interstate highways and turnpikes for both express lanes and for toll collection areas.   

       You're just asking for a universal retrofit to an existing, widely accepted and implemented system that would make it better suited to your personal needs. Which seems a bit selfish on the surface, but might also be regarded as the source of all innovation.
jurist, Feb 19 2004

       This problem is overcome in the UK by having the traffic lights set within a rectangle. The 3 lights sit in a black rectangle surrounded by a white retro-reflective border thus making their position relative to the other two lights easier to deduce. Interestingly (or not) there's no colour vision test involved in the standard UK driving test.
oneoffdave, Feb 19 2004

       I think the idea has merit. Provided the cost of implementing it is not prohibitive i see no reason why people who design these systems in the first place dont factor in these obvious abberations!   

       you get a bun
nomadic_wonderer, Feb 19 2004

       I don't recall ever having to take a color test either, but I certainly can't use it as an excuse to get out of a ticket. The UK solution works just as well. As long as I could see the positions at night, I'd be thrilled.
MuddyBuddy, Feb 19 2004

       This used to be here already - seems to be gone now though. Anyway, on that idea I pointed out that this is baked in many locations of the world. Where I lived for many years in Canada, traffic lights were often laid out horizontally with two round red lights at each end (so if you saw two on at once, you knew they were red), a single triangular yellow light second in from the left and a single square green light in third position from the left.   

       I've seen these in many parts of Eastern Canada, including Quebec and all over the Maritime provinces.
waugsqueke, Feb 19 2004

       [waugsqueke] if the idea is baked then provide the man with evidence.
nomadic_wonderer, Feb 19 2004

       Get your own evidence. I told ya where it is... you can do the rest.   

       I've seen 'em. Don't really much care if anyone else has.
waugsqueke, Feb 19 2004

       I see dead colours.
Detly, Feb 20 2004

       It might be easier to retrofit the lights to flash. Red lights would flash quickly. Yellow lights (when they need to flash) would flash slowly. But if a mask is easier, I'm all for a mask. Strange that this is widely known in the civilized world and not safety-crazed America.   

       Note: I created red-greed colorblindness test. Let me know if it works. [link]
ConsultingDetective, Feb 21 2004

       Now how much ink each year is wasted by needlessly adding a U in words such as color or honor, or by adding the extra consonant in the participle?
WordUp, Feb 22 2004

       I thought this would be about actually changing the shape of the entire assembly. In many (most?) traffic lights, there is a plate or shield that surrounds the three lights. I assume this is to help block the sun if it is apparently near the light assembly from the driver's perspective.   

       At times, the sun can in such a position as to cause it to be very difficult to see which of the three red,yellow,green lights, if any, is lit. If the shape of the surround changed according to which light was active, the state of the light would be discernable even if the sun was interfering.
half, Feb 22 2004

       [UnaBubba]: Does this explain why more men jump red lights?
Ling, Feb 22 2004

       [ConsultingDetective] - your test is broken. It's all the same colour.
Detly, Feb 22 2004

       Really? I always though those plates were there to prevent drivers on a perpendicular street from watching the light switch to red and jumping the gun. In other words, to discourage drivers from attempting to save two seconds by anticipating the light change.   

       Actually, I've seen a new style of traffic light that has a polarized light filter of sorts, so that the light only is only visible to those who are only looking straight at the light, and not those who are viewing it from the sides.   

       Getting back to the original idea... I'm not too sure if one could easily discern between a circle and a square from a distance on a rainy night. Of course, it's always an option, and a good habit, to simply slow down when approaching an intersection.
WordUp, Feb 22 2004

       I've seen traffic lights that have colour coded digital indictors that show how many seconds remaining for green, and how many remaining for red. I'm not sure if it safer, but it makes the traffic flow a little faster (especially when green is counting down 3,2,1.... :>) ). Even more confusion for the colour blind.
Ling, Feb 22 2004


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