Red Light! Green Light! Numbers?

Day 023 – August 14, 2011

This is such an amazingly simple and spot-on idea that I hope it makes its way to the States.

Of course, if it already has, would someone please drop me a line so I know where to move the family next because any city, municipality, village, hamlet, burg, or one-horse town that adopts this concept is where I want to be.

Sorry…back to that idea.

Traffic lights in Peru utilize the same green light-amber light-red light set-up that, I believe, is the standard throughout the world. Having not travelled throughout the world, I am taking this on faith and, again, readers can leave missives in the Comments section below to let me know that, for example, in Burkina Faso, traffic lights use mauve instead of amber.

However, and this is where the genius comes into play, traffic lights in the city of Lima and its various districts, also employ a countdown timer. These gradually decreasing numbers let the driver know how much time is left in the red light so they know how much longer they can spend reading the newspaper (which is almost as big a national sport as futbol). When the light is green, the countdown lets the driver know how much they have until the light says “Stop” so they know if they need drive even more erratically than they normally do here down in the City of Kings.

Look for yourself and see brilliance personified…

Red light countdown timer in Peru

Time to put down the paper

Green light countdown timer in Peru

Plenty, I say plenty, of time

Simply put, this is a great idea. Now how do I contact the makers of traffic lights in the States?


About sinpolaris

sinpolaris is the psuedonym of a guy who likes to write.

Posted on February 29, 2012, in Difference, Peru and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Even WITH the numbers, I doubt people in the US would act any differently. They still would feel the need to cut the end off the yellow light…IMO, it’s the impatience and sense of entitlement. “It’s okay if it’s red, I’ve waited here for far too long…” and they turn even when I have the green light.

  2. I LOVE the numbers, and I don’t even drive here. Makes life easier for pedestrians.

    • Hey, I didn’t even think about it from the walker’s perspective. I suppose the timer lets you know how much longer you’ll be stuck on the corner.

      • Since we’re on the topic of pedestrians – here we have a system where a siren (like that of an ambulance, but faster) goes of when about 10 seconds is left for the signal to turn green. I don’t know if this system exists elsewhere. I couldn’t find the exact purpose of this online. I’m guessing it is to let pedestrians know that they have only a few seconds remaining to cross the road and asking them to “hurry”.

      • With that pedestrian-warning siren, I think your area now qualifies to be in the Top Ten of noisiest places to walk around in.

      • Haha, yes, not the best place to contemplate one’s next blog post 😛

  3. It was introduced in the cities a few years ago here (India). I’d hadn’t really thought about it, but yes, it is such a simple yet wonderful idea. It also helps one in deciding whether to turn the engine off or to keep it running.

    240 is the longest I can remember waiting (Not Joking)

    • The timer lights here in Lima only have 2 digits, so the highest they can go is 99. However, the highest I have seen so far is 75. I’ve never seen anyone turn off their engine yet, but I’ll keep an ear out for it.

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