Three signal traffic light
A 1923 invention that improved roadway safety
Originally located close to the county courthouse at the intersection of State Highway 22 and State Highway 81 in Hillsboro, this traffic light was installed and maintained by the City of Hillsboro until 1967.
In the earliest days of the automobile, navigating America’s roads was a chaotic experience, with pedestrians, bicycles, horses, and streetcars all competing with motor vehicles for right-of-way. Traffic lights first began appearing at intersections in the United States in the 1910s. The first traffic lights only offered stop (red) and go (green), giving drivers no time to react when the light changed, leading to many collisions. The first three way traffic signal was patented in 1923 by Garrett Morgan, a Black inventor from Ohio.
As the first Black citizen in Cleveland to own a car, Morgan was inspired to improve traffic signals after he witnessed an accident at an intersection. He designed a third option on his signal, to give drivers the warning they needed to prepare for traffic to stop. He acquired patents for the three way traffic signal in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom and eventually sold the rights to General Electric.
Texas Department of Transportation, Austin
Time Period: 1946 - 1970
This artifact is currently on view.