Coding Ireland STEM Report 2024 Have Your Say
20 mins
100 points
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Introduction to Traffic Lights

Learn about the concept of traffic lights and their importance in managing traffic.
Learning Goals Learning Outcomes Teacher Notes

1 - What are Traffic Lights?

Traffic lights, also known as traffic signals, are signaling devices that control the flow of traffic at road intersections, pedestrian crossings, and other locations. They use colored lights (red, yellow, and green) to indicate when vehicles and pedestrians should stop, slow down, or go.

2 - Why are Traffic Lights Important?

Traffic lights are important for several reasons:

  • They help manage the flow of traffic, preventing congestion and gridlock.
  • They increase road safety by reducing the risk of accidents and collisions.
  • They provide a safe and controlled environment for pedestrians to cross busy roads.
  • They help reduce pollution by minimizing the time vehicles spend idling at intersections.

3 - How do Traffic Lights Work?

Traffic lights work by cycling through a sequence of colors (red, yellow, and green) to control the movement of vehicles and pedestrians. Each color has a specific meaning:

  • Red: Vehicles and pedestrians must stop and wait.
  • Yellow: Vehicles should slow down and prepare to stop, while pedestrians should not start crossing the road.
  • Green: Vehicles and pedestrians may proceed, but must yield to any oncoming traffic or pedestrians still in the intersection.

4 - Traffic Light Sequences

Traffic lights typically follow a standard sequence of colors:

  1. Green: Traffic is allowed to proceed in the direction denoted by the green light.
  2. Yellow: Traffic should prepare to stop as the light is about to turn red.
  3. Red: Traffic must stop and wait for the light to turn green again.

Some traffic lights also have additional signals, such as:

  • Left or right turn arrows: These signals allow vehicles to turn in the indicated direction when the arrow is green, even if the main traffic light is red.
  • Pedestrian signals: These signals indicate when it is safe for pedestrians to cross the road.

5 - Traffic Light Technology

Modern traffic lights use advanced technology to improve traffic flow and safety. Some of the features of today's traffic lights include:

  • LED lights: These energy-efficient lights are brighter and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • Smart sensors: Some traffic lights use sensors to detect the presence of vehicles and adjust the timing of the lights accordingly, reducing wait times and improving traffic flow.
  • Connected systems: In some cities, traffic lights are connected to a central control system, allowing traffic engineers to monitor and adjust the timing of the lights in real-time.

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