Search icon


04th Jun 2024

Traffic lights might be getting a new colour

Nina McLaughlin

Red, amber, green might be about to get a new addition

Scientists have suggested a new colour for traffic lights in order to help traffic flow around driverless vehicles.

Driverless cars are still yet to really take off on this side of the ocean, but in the USA autonomous vehicles (AV) are looking to be increasingly popular.

Brands such as Tesla and the self-driving taxi firm Waymo have experimented with AV, but they are not currently legal on UK roads.

However, with the Automated Vehicles Act, this could change by as soon as 2026.

The introduction of AVs to our roads means that scientists are looking at ways to keep the roads safe with a combination of both human driven vehicles and AVs.

Engineers at North Carolina State University have suggested one of the ways this change could be made simpler is with a new ‘white’ traffic light.

“The white phase concept incorporates a new traffic signal, so that human drivers know what they are supposed to do,” Dr Ali Hajbabaie, lead of the study, said, via Metro.

“Red lights will still mean stop. Green lights will still mean go. And white lights will tell human drivers to simply follow the car in front of them.”

Dr Hajbabaie’s team said that this would allow traffic to flow more smoothly, with AVs communicating wirelessly with each other and the traffic signal. Then, the white light would go on when there were enough AVs queuing, and drivers would simply need to follow the vehicle in front of them.

“If at some point in the future we see almost universal adoption of AVs, our models suggest that delays at intersections would decrease by more than 25%.

“More realistically, we will eventually see a lower percentage of wirelessly connected AVs on the road, but there would still be meaningful improvements in traffic time.”

Related links: