Print 63 comment(s) - last by erple2.. on Jun 22 at 4:35 PM

Could allow color blind individuals to drive more safely

Color blindness is a common optical disease that impacts many Americans.  Known medically as Daltonism or deuteranopia.  In the U.S., 7 percent of the male population (about 10.5 million people) and 0.4 percent of the female population (approximately 620,000 people) suffer from the most common form of color blindness, red-green color blindness. Globally, over 200 million people are believed to be colorblind. 

In some countries -- such as Romania or Turkey -- color blind people are forbidden to drive due to their inability to distinguish between colors on the traffic light.  In the U.S. they are free to drive, if they can memorize the order of the signals.  However, an even easier solution to helping the colorblind drive has now arrived.

The UNISignal has been created by designers Ji-youn KimSoon-young Yang, and Hwan-ju Jeont assist color-blind individuals in detecting traffic signals faster.  The new light has a triangular shape for the red (stop) light, a round shape for the yellow light, and a square shape for the green light.

By associating road directions with lit up shapes, the designers argue, the brain will be able to formulate an action, much faster than if you had to recall the order and then react.  For individuals with standard vision, the colors of the signal would be exactly the same, so there would be virtually no impact.

While the designers have not yet announced their official plan to market the light, it seems like it could draw significant interest, particularly in progressive urban areas, such as Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City.  Reaction to the new light has been largely positive.

In other news traffic light-related news, IBM is currently in the process of developing a traffic light that would turn off the motor of a car at a red traffic signal to conserve fuel.

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I'm sorry officer...
By MrBlastman on 6/18/2010 11:00:09 AM , Rating: 5
I thought the light was green, really, I did! I'm colorblind you see... so, to me, it really did look green. Can you let me off the hook?

Last time I checked, the top light of all stoplights I've seen in the states has been the red one. If the top light is lit, the light is red. That means... STOP.

You don't even have to memorize the order for crying out loud.

If its lit at the top, time to stop! (The wookie defense won't work on that one.)

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By Spivonious on 6/18/2010 11:03:14 AM , Rating: 5
Exactly. My dad's friend is color-blind and he knows that the top is always red. Even the sideways lights were fine because the leftmost light is always the red one.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By Fireshade on 6/22/2010 11:54:05 AM , Rating: 2
Form is usually recognized quicker than color.
Also, redundancy is never a bad thing.

Not everybody knows the standard on sideways traffic lights, mostly because they are quite a rarity compared to the normal vertical ones.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By webdawg77 on 6/18/2010 11:05:05 AM , Rating: 2
Some lights in states are turned sideways. Most of the ones I've seen along the Southern coast are turned that way (maybe to help reduce being swayed / knocked down by wind).

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By Smilin on 6/18/2010 1:17:58 PM , Rating: 3
same thing for sideways lights. It's standardized. red is left.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By marvdmartian on 6/18/2010 3:11:58 PM , Rating: 2
same thing for sideways lights. It's standardized. red is left.

Until, of course, the color blind guy is the one installing the traffic signal!! ;)

Yeah, a co-worker of mine was color blind. He said the only problem he had was remembering the sideways lights were red on left (because they're not that common). If existing signals can be retrofitted with a new shaped lens, that would be okay, but I really can't see them replacing all the existing signals with new units!

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By Souka on 6/18/2010 4:18:52 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not colorblind, but I'd consider a square means STOP

a triangle (looks kinda like an arrow) means GO

Ahhh welll...

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2010 5:50:27 PM , Rating: 4
A triangle usually means hazard ahead.

Green - Round (as it is)
Yellow - Triangle (usual hazard shape)
Red - Octagon (like a traditional stop sign or square if thats too expensive)

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By n00bxqb on 6/20/2010 1:13:09 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, it would make a lot more sense if they did it like that.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By Joey B on 6/18/2010 11:08:04 AM , Rating: 4
And if it's a single flashing red or yellow light? How about if it is dark and you can't see the location of the light in relation to the fixture until you are at the intersection? Or, if it is sideways, like in the hurricane states, and you've never seen it sideways before?

It's not a bad idea. You don't have to actively change them out. You just change them as they are scheduled to change, just like the changeover to LED lights.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By Smilin on 6/18/2010 1:11:41 PM , Rating: 1
In the case of a sideways it's always on the right.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By Smilin on 6/18/2010 1:12:53 PM , Rating: 4
Er left.

fvck I'm not color blind, can't remember but it's standardized.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By inperfectdarkness on 6/18/2010 11:11:27 AM , Rating: 2
not only that; but we already have stoplights with a blue LED added to the red--as well as stop lights with a flashing strobe attached to the red light.

over distance, it's hard to distinguish the "shape" of a light; whereas the position of a light (top to bottom) is a much better indicator.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By quiksilvr on 6/18/2010 12:44:49 PM , Rating: 2
Usually in your license there is indication that you are color blind and are certified to drive because you understand it (extra testing I believe).

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By drycrust3 on 6/18/2010 2:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
There is one big difference between the position of the light (e.g. top light) and shape of light (e.g. triangular) and that is the colour can be perceived from a long way off, e.g 400 metres down the road, which means you can adjust your speed to what the lights will be when you get there.
There is another solution which doesn't entail replacing the lights or requiring any extra circuitry: put face images on the lights e.g. :0 = red, :| = orange / yellow, :) = green.
With the replacement of traffic light bulbs to LED bulbs, this would be very easy to implement, and if the colour of the light comes from the actual LED (as distinct from a filter) then it could even be part of the manufacturing process.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By FaaR on 6/18/2010 3:14:29 PM , Rating: 1
Holy fuck man, if you need to know 400 meters in advance what light at the intersection up ahead is lit - JUST HOW FAST ARE YOU DRIVING?!

Any reasonable person would be slowing down when moving towards an intersection to allow a safe stop in case of a red light, regardless what signal you're getting initially.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By gmyx on 6/18/2010 4:55:55 PM , Rating: 2
You've obviously never been on a 100pkm+ / 60mph+ road with traffic lights (stupid designers). Yes, there are usually warning lights (at least from the ones I've seen) but may not be seen in time.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By krull1313 on 6/18/2010 2:20:45 PM , Rating: 3
I am colorblind, and it is one my license but I was never asked to memorize the the order. I guess they must have assumed that since I didn't run any red lights when I did the driving part that I knew them.

The hardest part for me though is the blinking red or yellow lights at night. All I do is just slow down until I can see where it is on the tree or just stop at all of them.

This is a great idea though. As a side note I work with 2 other people who are color blind, do you have any idea how hard it is to do wiring when everyone is colorblind. Not saying they need to change anything, but it is funny.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By MrBlastman on 6/18/2010 2:34:27 PM , Rating: 2
do you have any idea how hard it is to do wiring when everyone is colorblind.

I take it you are not a bomb disposal technician? ;)

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By Cubexco on 6/21/2010 8:58:08 AM , Rating: 2
I take it you are not a bomb disposal technician? ;)

McGruber? :)

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By CZroe on 6/18/2010 11:34:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'd downrate you except that I have to respond (those uprating you obviously don't know).

In case you didn't know, light sources typically blind the viewer to what is behind and directly around it at night or in the dark. Not only that, but some places do have horizontal traffic lights. I drove through Alabama on a cross-country trip using surface streets (no freeways) and was already angry that a certain region there used a different shade of colors than everywhere else in the country that I had experienced only to soon became FURIOUS when I discovered that they also had horizontal stop light in their downtown square. This is not OK.

The problem with their light shades was that they were much too "white," which significantly harmed distinguishability for a color-blind individual such as myself and my twin brother (taking turns obviously couldn't help). I've long said that it should be illegal to use one with shades that are not specifically approved and certified by the federal DOT but, lacking that (there must not be a cert), they should do their own testing before rolling them out for crying out loud. IT'S NOT A RARE DISORDER AT ALL!

It's bad enough when I waste a red shell in Super Mario Kart because they used the same sprite and I was sure it was a greenie occupying space that could be used for a more valuable item. Yes, I still play it. As long as I only play my brother, I guess it's not so much of a handicap, but we do Mario Kart 64 with more friends even more often. :(

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By MemoToYou on 6/20/2010 1:25:14 AM , Rating: 2
I have been diagnosed by an ophthalmologist as being red-green color blind because I can't see the numbers in dot pattern tests like this one:

He recommends that I shouldn't drive, which I do not agree to at all. As someone pointed out, you just have to remember the order of the lights. Besides, people like me can see red and green, just not all the shades in the spectrum. Wear a red shirt and I can tell you that it's a red shirt. The only disadvantage we have is doing those dot tests telling us we are color blind.

RE: I'm sorry officer...
By erple2 on 6/22/2010 4:35:27 PM , Rating: 2
That test is AWESOME!

I particularly like the result of the last one.

I was shocked to see that I'm also Black/White/Red/Green colorblind. Or I don't recognize numbers. Or I have a disconnect between printed and hand-traced-with-a-mouse answers...

Triangle Shape = GO!
By XZerg on 6/18/2010 11:42:02 AM , Rating: 3
Sure the triangle color is red but the shape is pretty damn close to "Go Forward" or even more close to the existing sign: "Go but Yield".

I much prefer signals shape that follow the action:
Red = X or Open Hand indicating stop (Red color)
Yellow = X or Open Hand indicating stop (Yellow color)
Green = ? (Green Color)

The thing I would want them to fix rather is instead of using a bulb entirely of same color as the light it is supposed to be, use a bulb that is black or white when off and when on it changes to the color it is supposed to be. With all this technologies in light types, this ought to be very much possible. The reason for this it is very hard to tell if the fully colored bulb on or off when the sun is shining brightly on them from 50m+ distance.

RE: Triangle Shape = GO!
By robert5c on 6/18/2010 12:14:55 PM , Rating: 2
my words exactly

a lit up triangle even if its ontop of the signal, could look like an arrow to go forward to a color blind person who didn't hear the news or is traveling from a location that doesn't have those lights...

if you must use shape put the triangle for go, that way it looks like an arrow forwards...

but more so you hit on two more important and much better ideas.

don't change the shape of the bulb, that alone sounds more expensive to have different shaped glass and surrounds...just place LED's in a pattern such as

AMBER O "circle" - Yellow, Caution (that way the single yellow lights or yellow lights on signs, can function the same)
GREEN "Arrow" or "O" - Go! ... the arrow pointing up for forward, or left or right for lanes tat those are necessary for...much like lights do today..."O" for green lights that allow you to go forward or must yield arrow left would not work in these cases only.

RE: Triangle Shape = GO!
By CZroe on 6/18/2010 11:58:36 PM , Rating: 2
I guess you've never had a problem seeing a light in direct, intense, sunlight (bright enough to make it hard to even tell that they are lit). LESS lit area would be MUCH worse.

RE: Triangle Shape = GO!
By Shadowself on 6/18/2010 2:49:14 PM , Rating: 3
That is roughly what I thought when I saw it.

The triangle lit at the top gives the impression of an arrow with the arrow tip lit up. That means, "GO", right?

If you want to go with shapes make the stop a huge red "X". Then make the green a huge green triangle or arrow.

Putting a triangle lit up at the top of a straight line is ONLY going to make things worse.

RE: Triangle Shape = GO!
By walk2k on 6/18/2010 3:53:53 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, I think the idea is good but their designers need to go back to design school.

Red X would work also.
Yellow, a dash - or the triangle.
Green = circle.

It's like a friend once said "creativity is not a virtue in traffic signage".

RE: Triangle Shape = GO!
By Qapa on 6/18/2010 4:00:17 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, the triangle pointing upward seems to indicate: GO!

It is better to use the already existing shapes for other traffic signs:
Red - Hexagon (as the STOP sign)
Yellow - Downward triangle (lose priority sign)
Green - Square (as some informative signs)

The red could also be a Circle (no traffic sign), but this way all would be different shapes than the current ones which would allow for better distinguishing from old signals.

In any case, there should be an international convention about this, so as not to create confusion!!
(Oh, and the Canada ones indicated above seem to be simple different shapes, but they didn't associate that with any shape for anything pre-existing, so it seems silly to me)

Another thing people are mentioning is replacing them as they need to be replaced, well here I need to disagree:
1 - Of course, you can't change them all at once, it costs huge money, so you need to do it in phases;
2 - Most scheduled replacing are of the bulbs not really for the whole "thing", so waiting for that could mean every "lots of years" you'd need to start replacing a couple, which would be useless because in 30 years you'd still have most of them as they are now;

RE: Triangle Shape = GO!
By Qapa on 6/18/2010 8:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
I meant octagon for the red light, as the octagon stop sign... :)

RE: Triangle Shape = GO!
By HighWing on 6/19/2010 2:58:46 AM , Rating: 2
I was thinking the same thing, only slightly different:

Red - Hexagon (as the STOP sign)
Yellow - Triangle ( as the YIELD sign)
Green - Square so as not to look similar to a hexagon

I think using a triangle as the stop light could be confusing as the triangle is ALSO used in yield signs. Seeing as the yellow light is more of a caution indicator, using the yield triangle makes more sense for it. Whereas using it for the stop light, and associating it with the yield sign, kinda gives the impression that you can still "go" after yielding. Even more so when giving the reason that drivers education here in the USA teaches people to look for the "shapes" rather than just the words/color!

By AssBall on 6/18/2010 11:00:37 AM , Rating: 3
Is it really worth the costs of replacing all of our stoplights so that 0.6 percent of the population can drive?

RE: $$$
By HalJordan on 6/18/2010 11:32:20 AM , Rating: 4
If the shape differentiated lights are the same cost when it comes time to replace the old lights due to age or damage, then I don't see a problem with the change. However, I agree with you. My wife has crap for night vision, so guess what, she doesn't drive at night. Some people should just accept some of their natural limitations. I'm not saying you shouldn't try to be the best darn you that you can be or that people should just accept their lot in life; I'm just saying some people weren't cut out to be bomb disposal technicians...accept it, own it, embrace it.

RE: $$$
By Kurz on 6/18/2010 11:34:04 AM , Rating: 2
Hey us colorblind people needs helps with drivings.
Don'ts take away our rights to drives.

Seriously though... WTF?
I am colorblind I never had an issue while driving.
Though I guess my colorblind condition is actually pretty minor, I can usually tell the difference between green and red provided the contrast is different enough.

RE: $$$
By Smilin on 6/18/2010 1:22:03 PM , Rating: 4
Is it really worth the costs of replacing all of our stoplights so that 0.6 percent of the population can drive?


First off it's far more than 0.6 percent of the population. Red/Green deficiency is outright common especially among males.

Second, the remainder of the population doesn't get magical immunity from a color blind person running a light so it affects ALL the population.

Thirdly, you're going to have to replace all the lights anyway. They do wear out. Change them over during normal replacement and use LEDs while you're at it.

Finally, try not to be such a self centered dick.

RE: $$$
By DigitalFreak on 6/18/10, Rating: -1
RE: $$$
By Smilin on 6/18/2010 4:29:57 PM , Rating: 1
I'm not colorblind myself but I'm not going to tell those that are that they fck their sisters and aren't allowed to drive.

You're just quite the fine sample of humanity aren't you?

RE: $$$
By noirsoft on 6/19/2010 7:04:07 PM , Rating: 1
No, it's a relatively common change to a recessive instead of dominant trait on the X chromosome, which explains why it is much more frequent in men, who only have one X chromosome. It's very similar to the trait for baldness in that way.

Note: This is my understanding from my 20+ year-ago high school biology course and some more recent web research into my own color deficiency. Not guaranteed to please an expert geneticist.

RE: $$$
By noirsoft on 6/19/2010 7:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
Color deficiency is in about 10% of men. The 7% figure states is just for one form of color deficient vision. Either way, a lot more than the 0.6% figure you pilled out of nowhere.

Next Up
By AssBall on 6/18/2010 10:58:57 AM , Rating: 5
Street lights that have different pitched dings so that the totally-blind can drive.

RE: Next Up
By gmyx on 6/18/2010 5:02:12 PM , Rating: 2
As a blind colleague of mine once said: Just give me a really long stick and I'll be fine :)

RE: Next Up
By Chocobollz on 6/20/2010 4:15:56 PM , Rating: 2
Not if that stick won't erect...

Old News
By Flunk on 6/18/2010 11:14:16 AM , Rating: 2
They have had shaped stoplights in Quebec (a Canadian province) for many years. This is not a new development and I wouldn't be surprised if this company doesn't get sued by whoever makes these lights already.

RE: Old News
By HotFoot on 6/18/2010 11:40:49 AM , Rating: 2
No kidding, I've seen those around for a long time. And isn't it the red one that's square in Quebec? It would be nice if the copy-cats would at least follow the same format, so we don't end up with each province/state having different shapes for different colours.

RE: Old News
By Kosh401 on 6/18/2010 2:40:00 PM , Rating: 2
They're using the same shaped lights in some parts of Ontario now too.

Red Square
Yellow Diamond
Green Circle

Would work even better for those single flashing lights when determining if it's red or yellow as the colour blind poster mentioned earlier here.

RE: Old News
By MrFord on 6/21/2010 11:12:48 AM , Rating: 2
I was surprised that they weren't already using these int he US. I can't even remember when we started using these type of traffic lights in Quebec. Seems obvious.

Not a bad idea
By noirsoft on 6/18/2010 12:13:06 PM , Rating: 2
I have protanopia (a less common form of red-green color deficiency) and the main problem for me is that the green light looks white, and blends in with normal street lights, making it hard to sometimes see if there is even a light there. The red is dull, and sometimes hard to notice at a distance. In some areas that use yellow street lights (like San Jose, CA where I used to live) the yellow light (the one that I can see best) blends into the background.

As others have said, it's not impossible to make out the lights, but the shape is a huge improvement with no drawback for those with full-color vision.

The biggest design rule to make things accessible for people who have color vision problems is that you should never make color the only differentiator between things. I can't count the number of times I've been on tech support and they ask "is the LED red or green?" and I have to answer "I can't tell"

RE: Not a bad idea
By DigitalFreak on 6/18/10, Rating: 0
RE: Not a bad idea
By jbwhite99 on 6/21/2010 12:26:49 PM , Rating: 2
Noirsoft, I had the same thought here - I have red/green color blindness (still can't pass the test at the eye doctor), and the "go" light is green, and the red isn't red, either.

yellow light
By webdawg77 on 6/18/2010 11:03:03 AM , Rating: 2
The new light has a triangular shape for the stop light, a round shape for the red light, and a square shape for the green light.

It should be round shape for the yellow light (according to the picture). Sounds like it will do some good with allowing the color blind to drive with a little more ease.

Or perhaps we could...
By Beenthere on 6/18/2010 12:34:38 PM , Rating: 2
...only provide driver's licenses to people who can see and have proper driving skills and ability? Drug addicts and DUIs need not apply.

By joex444 on 6/18/2010 1:26:27 PM , Rating: 2
With the size of these lights it could be a bit hard to distinguish the shapes.

I'd rather they leave the red light alone and change green/yellow. Make green a forward arrow; this is very common in my area anyways, and we have off-axis arrows indicating that to proceed forward you take a slight left or right as the case may be (I do mean slight, perhaps 10 degrees and this is reflected in the light signal). Now for yellow, change it to a horizontal bar. Then red is a full circle.

Sponsored by Sony
By Performance Fanboi on 6/18/2010 1:41:01 PM , Rating: 2 we need to figure out a way to add an 'X' light.

Why not...
By KillerNoodle on 6/18/2010 1:48:41 PM , Rating: 2
Use the standard shapes that have almost been accepted globally??? Those being an octagon and a triangle for stop and yield respectively. Why would you want to add another shape for something that already has a shape?

Now admittedly an octagon the size of a stop light would be a bit difficult to distinguish but to me it makes more sense then forgetting the current standards, that are in place, and creating a secondary system.

great idea, but needs work
By rika13 on 6/18/2010 2:48:12 PM , Rating: 2
RED: giant octagon, about 3x the size of the other lights, for sideways lights, would be a 3x octagons of normal size

YELLOW: equilateral triangle, pointing upward

GREEN: circle

Idiotic design
By lemonadesoda on 6/18/2010 4:20:14 PM , Rating: 2
Why on earth did the fail student designers use a "go forward" arrow for STOP?! Is this some kind of juvenile in-joke. What a prank.

In other news, same students design Braille traffic lights for blind drivers.

I disagree with everyone suggesting an "X" for stop. There is less light given off by an "X" than a big circle... which isnt good. STOP signal needs to be big and bright.

Any WHY NOT learn from the race-track? Gantry lights typically have 4 lights. 2 RED ones for stop. No argument for confusion there.

This one is clever. A countdown red.

By Runiteshark on 6/18/2010 9:08:12 PM , Rating: 2
Or they can do something much much cheaper, put plastic lenses over the signals.

Tada. Damn I should totally patent that hardcore technology.

By meef on 6/19/2010 12:50:29 AM , Rating: 2
Why not use a hexagon like the shape of a stop sight for the red light?

Oval(football) shaped for the yellow.

Triangle shape for Green, would make more sense to me.

By Pan Skrzetuski on 6/20/2010 1:07:22 AM , Rating: 2
Can you imagine how amusing stoplights could be if they turned off people's engines? I can envision implementations which would wreak havoc.

Also, brake pressure will drop fairly quickly if the engine is off, so might have some problems on that front too.

By MarcLeFou on 6/20/2010 11:50:31 AM , Rating: 2
We've had shapes for our lights since forever down here. Might not be as radically different as these but they're not all round. So what else is new ?

In fact the biggest problem we have is that LED bulbs don't emit enough heat to melt the snow in winter so they've had to install heating wires!

Probably worth it anyway since it costs so much to replace a light bulb by the "heavily qualified" city workers.

I have a better idea...
By danobrega on 6/20/2010 5:01:50 PM , Rating: 2
How about if,

The red light was up
The yellow light was middle and
The green light was bottom!


By queuetrip on 6/22/2010 4:24:00 PM , Rating: 2
the top light(stop light) should be a round red light... the bottom light (or stop light) should be a green triangle... lol

looked at or memorized the playstation controller?... the triangle button is green...(top) and the right button is a round red button...

By integr8d on 6/19/2010 5:30:20 PM , Rating: 1
Just smells of some company bribing politicians to get a juicy contract.

We have a standard. It works. Try to see past the article and into what it's really saying. This will just cost more taxpayer dollars.

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