11 responses on “At the Traffic Light

  1. Richard Healy


    Even though red is to me essentially the same as amber and green looks..well… like a normal light-bulb – just bright. So I tend to go by position.

    I know the top one should be red, even if, like the picture above, it doesn;t look it, so in either case I stop.

  2. Jeff

    We just found out our son is red green color blind. My first thought was how will he drive someday. I’m concerned, how is it done?

  3. Grahame

    The trick is to be awake and look at the position, you can tell the bulb is on and where it sits in the order tells you what to do. You just develop skills.

    The only times I have problems are if the sun is behind me and shining on the traffic lights, then I approach and it looks like the lights aren’t on if the red light is lit. So I wait, then amber comes on and I can see it. Second, in UK we have amber street lights that look just like the red light, if you’re not paying attention you can confuse the red light with the street lights (as I have done – it was alright). The trick is to be aware of the danger and be careful!

  4. Skip

    I’ve been driving for 35 years without a traffic accident and I have both Protanopia and Deuteranomaly colorblindness. Driving really isn’t a problem for me.

    It’s true that green lights are close to white lights, but they’re really not the the one’s to worry about. I can easily tell red and yellow lights apart by their position (red-top, yellow-middle) — although I will say that yellow lights generally throw off more light. Brake lights aren’t an issue, because they’re really bright, and any bright color, especially any color increasing in brightness on the rear of a vehicle will catch my eye without me having to pay any extra attention.

    So, in answer to Jeff above, unless you live in a state with overzealous lawmakers, which my state, Massachusetts, seems to be approaching, your son will probably do fine driving.

    In my opinion, the biggest issue that you might want to be aware of is a possible self-esteem issue that a colorblind child might acquire at a young age. Colorblind children figure out pretty quickly that other kids know their colors and they don’t. Colors are one of the first things we learn, and therefore one of the first apparent learning failures. If a child doesn’t learn about their colorblindness until well into elementary school, there’s a chance that they’ll internalize this failure.

  5. ck

    The self-esteem issue i think is significant. I always knew that i had to read the name of the color on the crayon or i’d be lost. I would do things like color the water purple or color the sun light green. I think knowing i was color blind was helpful, if i didn’t know i think I would have thought I was just dumb.

    The only issues i ever have with driving is at night in city settings where there are lots of other lights. Lucky for me though its just the green lights that look just like any other street light but the reds standout enough that always no it when i see it.

  6. Alan

    I didn’t find out I was Red-Green colourblind until I was 18 years old. I remember when I took the eye test for my driver’s license at 16 and the lady gave me a few weird looks and then went to talk to her supervisor…I did get my license that day though.

    I still don’t find I have a hard time driving or telling red and green apart. I don’t care for night driving…I do have a bit of a hard time with that and I find myself squinting at traffic lights.

    I often do mix up green with browns (at a distance) or navy blues with purples (especially on fabrics)shades of colours I guess….The most recent eye test I did I only got about 10% of them right and the doctor laughed at me when I asked him how severe it was and he replied “pretty severe”. I don’t know if this condition will worsen as I age…Apparently my mom’s father couldn’t see traffic lights at all.

    I still don’t find I have that hard of a time. Certainly no self-esteem issues…lol. I am a geologist and I do have a hard time with minerals like chlorite (greenish tinge)…but you get used to it and can typically distinguish textures.

    I was annoyed that I cannot be a police officer or get my pilot’s license….I can tell red shirts from green shirts and all that. So I don’t get what the problem is.

    I also have a hard time describing my colourblindess to others when they ask…it’s always been that way, I don’t know anything is or should be different, the world is as I see it. Those of you that are concerned regarding your children’s colourblindness, you shouldn’t be. The eye doctor told me one of his fellow eye doctors is colourblind himself….isn’t that ironic.

  7. Tony

    Stop as the only light that is on is the top one!

    It’s funny, I often have people ask me how I can drive. I have protanopia, so I see the red light in traffic lights with about 1/10th the intensity that a normal person would see it. But a) it looks completely different to the amber and green lights, and b) it is at the top! No brainer. Now if there was only a single light that changed colour then there may be more of a problem. Why do I say this if the red and the green look completely different? The brain is an amazing thing, and it changes our perception based on context, take out the context and what our brain tells us is different may now look the same :)