Traffic lights are a daily obstacle for drivers around the world, but where would we be without them?
There are more than 33,000 traffic lights in the UK and it is estimated that drivers spend eight minutes a day waiting at red lights – that adds up two days a year.
While it might seem like an eternity waiting for the lights to change to green, the average time for a light to change is between 60 and 90 seconds.
Research by Confused.com found that many drivers keep themselves occupied by adjusting the heating or air conditioning or grabbing a quick snack. For taxi drivers, this could be the moment passengers try to strike up a conversation, the old favourite being to ask the driver if they’ve been busy!
While traffic lights can drive many people up the wall, they are part everyday life for professionals drivers like taxi drivers. No one likes waiting at red lights, but they are designed to help traffic flow safely and smoothly through towns and cities. Delays are caused by the sheer volume of traffic which bring busy roads to a standstill and it is easy to become frustrated when you are going nowhere while the lights go through their sequences.
As annoying as it can be, all you can do is wait patiently. For those who earn their livelihoods on the road, it isn’t worth picking up fines and points on their licence by ignoring traffic lights because endorsements can affect their taxi insurance or prevent them getting cheap taxi insurance in future.
Confused.com found that one in five who risked going through red had been caught, with one in 10 of those stopped by a police officer, but most caught on CCTV.
More than half of drivers said they would never race through a red light, but one in five admitted to being frustrated to face a sequence of red signals on a straight road.
It comes as no surprise that there are more traffic lights in the busiest towns and cities, with London topping the table with about 6,300 sets.
What does come as a bit of a shock is that Blackpool has the second highest number, with more than 2,400, and Manchester in third with almost 2,300.
While there are now hundreds of thousands of traffic lights around the world, the first electric traffic signal was installed on August 5, 1914, in Cleveland, Ohio, at the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street.
Although the official celebrations take place on 05th August, the first traffic signal dates back to London in 1868 when a traffic device was used to help people know when to stop and when to use caution.
In 1912, two years before the Cleveland lights, a police officer in Salt Lake City, Utah, installed a wooden box with red and green lights on to a pole to help control traffic.
Over the years, different kinds of traffic signals have helped pedestrians, cars, vans, taxis, lorries, motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders navigate the roadways more safely.
All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.