Are you ready for four-color traffic lights?

Another thing that is already a thing.


I run a lot of orange lights while my wife is yelling at me that the light is red.

No it’s not, it’s not yellow and not quite red, you know, orange.


white lights tell human drivers to simply follow the car in front of them

How many car lengths in front of them? People are already notoriously bad at calculating that, you know.

I would like to see their simulations automate the rules for intersections which already exist (not ‘stop’, ‘go’, and ‘place your bets’ - rather ‘enter’,‘do not enter’,and ‘enter only if you physically can not stop and your path is unobstructed.’ Automation should be better at calculating that than most people are.)

I would much rather see turning signal enforcement. Since the car can’t read the driver’s mind, try automatically beeping and fining you if you change lanes or turn without signaling. Kinda like a mandatory swear jar. Even just collecting the stats and showing them to you (or giving them to your insurance company) would help.


I’m still waiting for them to turn blue, like Jimi sang about.




It reminds me of this cartoon

Did you accidentally invent trains again?

ETA: haha like 10 of you got to this before me, I hadn’t read all of the thread
Let’s have trains, ok? high fives.


All right, I’m a little confused. Do green lights not mean to follow the car in front of you? Like, I know we say it means go, but you’re not actually going to go unless the car in front of you does, right? Hopefully even in an automated car?


That sounds like blue shift to me. You need to stop traveling at relativistic speeds.


Presumably the order in which it appears would give color-blind people an idea of which light it is, just as R/Y/G always appear in that order.

But I question the idea of a “follow the car in front of you” signal. How is this different from following the car in front of you any other time? I would be really freaked out if I saw a white “follow the car in front of you” while my regular light was still red, which sounds like a conflicting set of instructions. But if my light turns green at the same time…why do we need the white light?

I also wonder if the white light will lure drivers into a false sense of complacency, in which they assume the EV will be taking care of looking out for pedestrians, etc. I can see a scenario where a pedestrian (biker, etc.) pops in from the side but the EV forges ahead because it’s happening just behind the EV, but still in front of the human driver in the car behind who is confidently following the EV and not really keeping as vigilant eye out for pedestrians as they should.

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andy richter speeding ticket GIF by Team Coco


Without searching, on a horizontal light is the red on the left or right? Is R/Y/G or G/Y/R from left to right?

I’ll bet @Ceran_Swicegood knows.


I’m just relieved this wasn’t a Republican idea coming out of Florida where the light means “go, but for whites only”.


Especially since doing so can cause one to completely miss their destination.



I fundamentally don’t understand the point of this. If it’s about driverless cars, communicating wirelessly with each other… then the traffic light should be communicating wirelessly with them too. Human drivers need to know “am I allowed to go or not?” and I don’t get what the white light is supposed to convey beyond that, that they actually need to know. Where’s the efficiency? No yellow lights? If you can safely have no yellow lights at a particular point in time (because autonomous vehicles are in line), then just don’t have them. (But you do need them - presumably at some point the white light is going to turn red, and human drivers need more of a heads-up than having the autonomous car in front of them suddenly stopping at the intersection.) The white light is just creating confusion and adding cognitive load for human drivers that creates mistakes - they already need to pay attention to other drivers and pedestrians and figure out if they’re following traffic rules; they don’t need to make additional situational decisions that a smart traffic system should be making for them in the first place.

And all this accepts the premise that this transportation scenario is somehow desirable, and ignores UI issues (e.g. colorblind drivers), that plans that require changes to drivers, pedestrians, infrastructure and vehicles simultaneously are exactly the ones that generally don’t get off the ground, etc.

They’re really glossing over what this white light is supposed to tell drivers about what they’re now allowed to do. It’s not at all simple, which makes me wonder if the problem is that this proposal was poorly thought through or just really poorly communicated. Or both.

Yes, EXACTLY! These kinds of proposals are essentially saying, “Let’s imagine that everything is different.” Okay, yeah, let us do that.

A pathway where only a standardized series of cars travel in close proximity, with no pedestrians bicyclists, etc. allowed to even cross it? Hmm, sounds familiar…


Not being color blind this isn’t something I really need to know but my guess is red first, green last.


This completely ignores bicycle and scooter traffic.

Go back to the drawing board, people. There are travel options that are better for our health and reduce the wear on infrastructure.


What could possibly go wrong

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Whether green is a distinct color from blue is culturally bound and just, like, your opinion, man.

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I remember watching Minority Report and seeing all those automated robo cars (that Tom Cruise jumps all over) and thought “that’ll never happen in DC! And where are the regular cars?! There’s always some hold outs!” and that idea followed on to “oh, I guess you’d need to have Robo-only/AV-only lanes and roads…”

So the idealist in me loves that this is a potential bridge solution, but the realist in me can’t wait to see how my fellow BoingBoingers will defeat it!

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