The traffic light – a new style:
informative, economical, convenient
The classical variant of traffic lights (three color signals in an identical circular shape) exists for more than one hundred years. Science and practices within recent years proved that geometrical forms of an object are significant for perception in a parallel with colors. Psychologists, designers, teachers often use this phenomenon in their practical work. The expressive qualities of color and form should work synchronously; i.e., color and form should be uniform, supporting and supplementing each other.
Modern technical equipment enables us to make a new style traffic light in which the signal color corresponds to a shape.
The aperture of this new style traffic light contains the same colors in the same order as the standard road traffic light. However, unlike the latter, the red and amber light signals of this traffic light have a different shape; red is a square, and amber a triangle. The green signal and additional green lights are circular as before.
The combination of color and form (Figures 1, 2 and 3) gives the new traffic light new qualities with the following advantages over the current (conventional) traffic light:
- This traffic light can be built in the form of two (with a countdown timer) or one (without a countdown timer) sections, and in comparison with the existing traffic light, it is more compact (lower weight and size) and leads to reduced costs.
- The combination of color with its corresponding form is especially convenient for visually impaired and color-blind persons.
- The reduction in the number of sections means that less road space is taken and visibility is increased.
- The informational content of the traffic light is complemented with the double indication of the amber triangular signal – the top ("corner") of the triangle indicates that the (red/green) light signals are about to switch on.
- The visualization of the traffic light with the color and its corresponding form enables drivers and pedestrians to comprehend the information more easily and in advance, and unambiguously interpret the signals.
The choice of shape for the corresponding traffic light signal is explained as follows:
The square is a symbol of motionless matter. The square corresponds to the color red. The weight and opacity of the color red is consistent with the static and weight of a square. The triangle radiating outwards in all directions is a symbol of thought; it is equated to the color amber. The circle represents constant movement. It has a gentle effect. The colors green and blue correspond to spherical shapes and the continuous movement of a circle (Itten, J. Kunst Der Farbe: Subjectives Erleben und objectives Erkennen als Wege zur Kunst. Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Otto Maier Verlag Ravensburg, 1961, p.120-121).
The art theorist Vasily Kandinsky also stated that the right angle and the square corresponds to the color red, and the acute angle and triangle corresponds to the color amber.