Black trailblazer Garrett Morgan invented the modern traffic signal, and added the yellow light after witnessing an intersection crash

Who was Garrett Morgan?

With only an elementary school education, Garrett Morgan, a Black man, was born on March 4, 1877, in Paris, Kentucky. He began his career as a sewing machine mechanic and went on to patent several inventions, including the improved sewing machine, a hair-straightening product, and a respiratory device - the precursor to the gas mask used in WWI. He was also a community leader.

In 1923, Morgan created a new kind of traffic signal, one with a warning light to alert drivers that they would need to stop, after witnessing a carriage accident at a problematic intersection in Cleveland, Ohio. Morgan, the first Black man in Cleveland to own a car, quickly acquired patents for his traffic signal-an early version of the modern three-way traffic light-in the United States, Britain, and Canada. He eventually sold the rights for the traffic signal to General Electric for $40,000. Morgan died on July 27, 1963, at age 86, and is buried at the Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

A safety reminder: Does a yellow light mean stop?

A yellow signal warns you that the red signal is about to appear. When motorists see the yellow light, they should stop, if they can do so safely. If a motorist can't stop, look out for vehicles that may enter the intersection when the light changes.

The flashing yellow light means: "proceed with caution." Traffic facing the yellow light has the right-of-way, but oncoming traffic usually also has a flashing yellow light, and cross-traffic will have a flashing red light.

Many innovations have been added to Morgan's invention over the years, but the same basic principle has remained the same. Find out how one cutting-edge Hillsborough program keeps the signals going even when the power is out.

Image Caption: Garrett Morgan is known for the modern-day version of the traffic signal.
Posted: 1/2/2024, 9:35:18 PM