Traffic lights were created to help not only with the flow of traffic but also to keep everyone safe and create guidelines to how humans travel the roads. They seem like something that is pretty simple, tell people when to go, when to slow down, and when to stop. Although this should be that simple the human sized light signals have some clunky measures to them that make it a frustrating feature for some drivers.

We are taught in drivers training that when you see the traffic signal turn from green to yellow that you start to slow your vehicle down and prepare to stop for the pending red light. There is also a sweet spot where you won't be able to slow down and as long as you are in the intersection before it turns red you can roll through. Well, things can get messy when the timing of the light changes create dangerous situations.

So many of us have been driving for many years on edge and most of us are trying to get to a certain place in a decent amount of time, but there are some slower and leisure drivers. For the most part, drivers are traveling 5-8 mph over the speed limit, meaning they would need a few extra feet and seconds to come to a complete stop. When looking at the main roads in Kalamazoo, the speed limit on most of them is somewhere between 40 and 55 mph.

If you're traveling that fast you already need about 5 seconds and 100 something feet to slow your vehicle down. I ran into this issue this morning where I was driving up Gull Road and was driving at a smooth 45 mph when all of a sudden one of the lights turned yellow. I tried to hit my break but quickly realized I wouldn't be able to stop in time. I figured I had a few seconds before the light turned red, I couldn't have been more wrong.

The light switched from yellow to red in 3 seconds flat, causing me to run a red light. This had me thinking about the average time of a yellow light on main roads and they are all around 2.5-4 seconds. Which should be plenty of time but depending on when the light flips you may be caught up running a red light.

I'm not saying the lights should be longer because I don't want to be caught running a red light, although that would help, it's about the safety of all drivers on the road. Someone could easily be in an accident or spin out trying to stop too fast or someone takes off too quickly while they're trying to get through a yellow light. Longer yellow traffic lights make the roads a little bit safer in my opinion, what do you think?

Michigan Man Created the Four-Way Traffic Light, 1920

Included is a gallery of vintage traffic lights