Garrett Augustus Morgan (1877-1963)
Garrett Augustus Morgan (1877-1963) | Invented and patented the first three-way traffic signal in 1923.
Garrett Morgan was a trailblazer for African American inventors.
One of his most notable inventions was the first three-way traffic signal, which revolutionised road safety, reducing automobile accidents and road deaths.
In 1923, Garrett invented the first version of the modern three-way traffic signal, still in use around the world today.
At the time, navigating roads was chaotic and dangerous; with cars, horse drawn carriages, cyclists, and pedestrians all competing for right of way. Early road traffic signals were either ‘Stop’ or ‘Go’. This left road users little time to respond to the changing signal.
After witnessing an automobile accident at a road junction, Garrett was determined to improve road safety. He came up with an improved design which added a third signal. This gave drivers and pedestrians a warning that the signal was about to change, thereby reducing the number of road accidents.
Today, this third signal is the amber light on traffic lights, used to warn drivers that the lights are about to change between red and green.
Image captions: Garrett Augustus Morgan portrait Source: no photo credit identifiable. Traffic Signal Patent Source: World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
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