Daily Archives: 27, October 2011

Red light, green light (oh, and amber light)

In addition to baking up a storm this weekend, I also completed online traffic school.

(You may remember that I was smacked down with not one, but two red light traffic camera tickets a couple of months ago – a proverbial embarrassment of riches after years of a near-perfect driving record.)

Well, this weekend I was eyeballs-deep in the rules of the road. Among other things, I refamiliarized myself with the red, yellow and green light. Or rather, the red, amber and green light, if you’re a Brit.

Red, amber and green? Yes! Is there anything more poetic than to call your basic yellow light “amber”? And why stop there? They should go with crimson, amber and moss? Or candy apple, amber and emerald? Why not?!

And that’s not the only difference between UK and US traffic lights.

* American lights go red to green to yellow, then back to red.

* British lights are more complex. They go red to red and amber at the same time, to green to amber, then back to red again.

I have heard that the US used to have this kind of sequence back in the 1950s and that you can still spot this in some parts of rural America but I have yet to see a yellow light follow a green light. Have you?