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Delta throwback: A bright idea

New signal would efficiently control the flow of increasing traffic
delta throwback traffic lights
Const. Parker stands in a stop light section symbolizing the countless hours spent on point by earlier generations of police before William Potts came up with a bright idea.

Let’s head back to the 1968 pages of the Delta Optimist when a story ran celebrating the invention of an important traffic safety feature decades earlier.

Pictured is Delta Police Const. Robert Parker standing in the light section of a standard three-colour traffic signal, which was invented by Detroit traffic officer William Potts in 1920.

Previous illuminated signals used only red and green lights and the addition of an amber "caution" light made driving safer.

The idea to add a yellow light came from railroads which were already using three lights.

Detroit became the first city to implement four-way and three-coloured traffic lights and they became the standard by the mid-1930s.