RamsThoughts

May 28, 2008 12:34 am

Why is stop light RED?

Filed under: Children,Communication,RandomThoughts — ramsblog @ 12:34 am

Off late, my 3 year old daughter V- has been learning all the colors and what they mean, the traffic, the pavements, the roads, etc etc. So, few months ago she learned “Red” light at an intersection means “stop”, “Green” at an intersection means “Go”.

Since then, she has been saying it every time we come across the lights – either while driving or walking across the street. This evening, I took  her to the nearby library. My dad and I were walking a bit slow and she being a toddler started running but still at a distance that she would hear me if I called her name.

On the way back from the library while we were waiting at the light for us to cross the street. She asked number of questions.

1. Daddy, why is that car not moving?
2. did he stop because of the red light?
3. why is another car moving?
and so on…

I tried my best to answer most questions until I heard, “why is stop light RED, and why not any other color?“. Me being always learned about the standards for certain and certain things, I couldn’t give her a better answer. I tried my best again, and she being an ignorant 3 year old toddler, accepted it. However, I wasn’t convinced myself to my answer.

Why do you think the stop lights at the intersections are Red,Yellow and Green? How did that standard of red,yellow,green (universal) come into picture at the first place?

although, she accepted my answer for now, I don’t think she would accept such answers few months down. I think she already asked me a follow up question, that I can’t remember now, as the light turned on for us to walk across and she got deviated from the topic.

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6 Comments »

  1. Got this from some site!!!

    Red has often been the color chosen when the goal was to attract attention, since red, more than any other color, heightens nervous tension in people. Green, on the other hand, has a neutral effect on human emotions, so it was natural to use it to indicate an “okay to proceed” condition. When it was decided to add a caution lamp to the traffic light, yellow was chosen because, other than white, it was the color most distinguishable from red and green. White, of course, was not desired since it could be confused with the many other white lights—such as streetlights—that might be near the traffic light.

    Comment by Radhika — May 29, 2008 8:12 pm @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  2. Red has often been the color chosen when the goal was to attract attention, since red, more than any other color, heightens nervous tension in people. Green, on the other hand, has a neutral effect on human emotions, so it was natural to use it to indicate an “okay to proceed” condition. When it was decided to add a caution lamp to the traffic light, yellow was chosen because, other than white, it was the color most distinguishable from red and green. White, of course, was not desired since it could be confused with the many other white lights—such as streetlights—that might be near the traffic light.

    Comment by Radhika — May 29, 2008 8:13 pm @ 8:13 pm | Reply

  3. @Radhika,
    thank you for this information. that sounds appropriate to me.

    Comment by ramsblog — May 29, 2008 9:18 pm @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  4. Thinking about it further, it appears like a tree and a seed situation with respect to “red heightens nervous tension in people” – as a 2 year old kid, she did not know anything beyond just a color name when she was learning about colors. Now that she is learning more, she got to know that Red = Stop or danger. So, now on, she would feel the anxiety, or a flag of danger or immediate attention when she comes across the color Red….

    Comment by ramsblog — May 29, 2008 9:30 pm @ 9:30 pm | Reply

  5. So it’s we elders instilling that red is equivalent to danger in the young mind? May be yes. I’m sure you are bombarded with many such question by your daughter. Share it in the blog – would come in handy for othe rpeople with young kids at home :). My 2year old daughter Ananya has slowly started asking questions about her surroundings.

    Comment by Radhika — May 29, 2008 9:35 pm @ 9:35 pm | Reply

  6. […] – made me realize lately. There were days when we used to go around and she would ask me bunch of “why” questions and I used to get by giving some sort of answers, and those answers would already have the follow […]

    Pingback by b’coz I told ya… « RamsThoughts — February 20, 2009 12:44 am @ 12:44 am | Reply


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