Profile America: Garrett Morgan’s Traffic Light

​Profile America — Sunday, November 27. 

The first traffic signal with indicators for “stop”, “go” and most notably “caution” was patented this month in 1923. The green light went to African-American inventor Garrett Morgan, who decided to do something after witnessing a collision between a car and a horse-drawn wagon on a Cleveland street. At the time, there were already more than 15 million motor vehicles on the nation’s roads. Morgan’s three-position signal was manually operated by a traffic officer during peak hours. This invention, with its staffing and mechanical requirements, was soon overtaken by the now-familiar system of green, yellow and red lights. Today’s traffic signals regulate the movements of the approximately 260 million motor vehicles in the U.S. 

You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at U.S. Census Bureau.

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