Traffic signals can be on poles, bars or suspended from above. Ever wonder why Texas uses horizontal ones?

Not exactly one of those nagging questions that's going to keep you up at night but, just in case, I looked it for you. I have no life.

It's not a super complicated explanation but there actually is a reason why the lone star state ... Florida too ... see horizontal traffic signals as their go - to.

Traffic signals have been around for over 100 years and they've been using the same 3 colors forever. The colors will remain the same but it looks like the powers that be are going to add a new one.  

It's going to take them a while to update all the signals in Texas, (there are over 1400 in Dallas alone and about 650 in El Paso), if this passes. You can thank autonomous vehicles for any construction related traffic delays this upgrade causes.

Back to why horizontal traffic lights are a thing. There are several reasons why this design is preferred in Texas and elsewhere.

  • To provide more clearance. Most cars are ok but trucks, busses and other tall vehicles may clip signals that hang vertically.
  • Horizontal signals don't need as tall of a pole which saves on metal. That may not amount to a lot for a signal or two but when you're dealing with thousands of them, that adds up.
  • Horizontal signals fit better within a drivers "cone of vision" ... the area drivers can fully view without turning their heads ... 20 degrees to the left and 20 degrees to the right.
  • Horizontal signs can be mounted high enough for drivers to see but not so high that drivers have trouble seeing them. 15 - 25 feet seems to be the window.

Now you know ... thank you interweb.


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