United States Patent 3688259

A traffic light has superposed red, yellow and green lenses, each of which is surrounded by an annular illuminated tube that glows in a color that contrasts with the color of the lens, e.g., white.

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International Classes:
F21S8/00; G08G1/095; (IPC1-7): B60Q1/00
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US Patent References:
2190035Traffic signal1940-02-13Loungway

Primary Examiner:
Pitts, Harold I.
1. A fixed traffic light comprising a box and three superposed lenses on the front of the box, the top lens being red, the middle lens being yellow, and the bottom lens being green, an illuminable annular tube surrounding each lens, said tube when illuminable glowing with a color different from the color of the lens it surrounds, and means detachably

2. A traffic light as claimed in claim 1, and three visors carried by said box, one extending over each said lens and tube.

The present invention relates to traffic lights, more particularly of the type that are relatively fixed and emplaced along streets, particularly at the intersections thereof, to signal and/or control vehicular traffic.

Such fixed traffic lights are usually of the type having a disc-shaped lens surmounted by a shield which protects them to some extent from weather and shields them during the day from ambient light.

If on a dark night a stationary observer may easily see traffic lights when they are set off by themselves, it is quite otherwise when the lights are themselves surrounded by variously illuminated objects or fixed or movable lights of various colors. Moreover, if the observer himself is in a moving vehicle among other moving vehicles, the task of distinguishing among the numerous lights creates the risk that he will not see the traffic light in time, and this possibility is increased by bad weather, smoke, noise and other distracting influences. Also, by day, sunshine often renders it difficult to discern the traffic lights.

Furthermore, it is often difficult for a driver to find the traffic light in time to obey it, as for example when he rounds a corner; and to avoid this difficulty, lighted signals warning of the approach of the traffic light are often set up a distance sufficiently far in advance of the traffic light. These warning lights, however, suffer from the same disadvantages as the traffic lights themselves: if they are not illuminated, then they tend to be invisible at night; but if on the other hand they are illuminated, then they suffer from the disadvantages listed above.

According to the present invention, traffic lights are rendered more visible by conjoining them with a second light of a contrasting color or white, preferably by surrounding them with an annulus of this contrastingly colored light.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide traffic lights whose visibility is greatly improved and which will be seen by the operators of motor vehicles at the earliest possible moment.

Another object of the present invention is the provision of traffic lights which will be relatively simple and inexpensive to manufacture and that can be installed, maintained, operated and repaired with a maximum of facility and a minimum of expense.

Other features, objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 is an elevational view of a single-light traffic light according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a view similar to FIG. 1 but showing a three-light traffic light according to the present invention; and

FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 2 but showing the yellow light illuminated in a continuous or flashing manner as a caution signal.

Referring now to the drawing in greater detail, and first to the embodiment of FIG. 1, there is shown a traffic light generally indicated at 1 and detachably secured by conventional straps 3 to a supporting pole 5 by which it is elevated relative to the street it borders. Light 1 comprises the conventional box 7 the front of which is closed by a lens 9 which may for example be red as a stop signal, yellow as a caution signal, or green as a go signal. A conventional visor 11 extends forwardly from box 7 above lens 9, to shield lens 9 from the elements and to increase the visibility of lens 9 when lighted.

Traffic light 1 is thus fixed in position, although it will be understood that the term "fixed" as used herein includes traffic lights that are suspended from wires or otherwise resiliently mounted.

The invention is practiced in connection with the embodiment of FIG. 1, by supplying an annular transparent or translucent glass tube 13 in the form of "neon" tubing or the like, having a rare gas or the like inside which, when connected in electrical circuit, will glow with a light whose color depends on the nature of the gas in the tube. Such annular tubes are well known in the lighting art and need not be further described.

Suffice it to say that whatever the color of tube 13, it will be a different color from that of lens 9, or white, so that a contrast will be achieved between lens 9 and tube 13 when both are illuminated. Conventional electrical circuitry (not shown) can be supplied to the light behind lens 9 and to tube 13, to illuminate them simultaneously or selectively, continuously or in a flashing manner or according to a timed cycle.

FIG. 2 shows a conventional three-lens traffic light 1', comprised by a vertically elongated box 7', the red lens 15 being at the top, the yellow lens 17 being in the middle, and the green lens 19 being at the bottom. Tubes 13 surround each of the lenses 15, 17 and 19 and are of contrasting colors or white. As before, the tubes 13 may be simultaneously illuminated, or continuously illuminated, or illuminated only with their associated lens, or in a flashing manner, or according to the same or a different timed cycle as their associated lens.

FIG. 3 shows the same structure as in FIG. 2, with the yellow or middle lens illuminated as a caution light, continuously or in a flashing manner, the red and the green lenses being dark. The tube 13 associated with lens 17 is illuminated and the tubes 13 associated with the lenses 15 and 19 may also be illuminated if desired.

From a consideration of the foregoing disclosure, therefore, it will be evident that all of the initially recited objects of the present invention have been achieved.

Although the present invention has been described and illustrated in connection with preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that modifications and variations may be resorted to without departing from the spirit of the invention, as those skilled in this art will readily understand. Such modifications and variations are considered to be within the purview and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.