I find it quite interesting when such a taken-for-granted piece of everyday life like a traffic light is brought to front-and-center attention, either through a discussion, in the news, in a song, or in a commercial. I’ve compiled a collection of traffic light videos and songs that will continue to grow. And they span quite a wide range throughout history. The earliest ones are from the 1930s while the newest ones are computer animated stories or news clips.
Late 1960s Sesame Street segment by the Children’s Television Workshop explaining how good it is that we have traffic lights.
Sponsored by Chevrolet Division, General Motors Corporation, the 1937 Handy (Jam) Organization short film Seeing Green looks inside of the electro-mechanical “brain” of the traffic light.
Canadian TV show Acme School of Stuff showing how mechanical controllers work to run traffic lights.
Fred Rogers is visited by his good friend Mr. McFeely, who shows a video on how traffic signals are assembled. Mr. Rogers then demonstrates his own traffic light. Watch more of the PBS series Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood at Amazon.com
A 4-way traffic light is front and center in this drag racing scene in Universal’s The Fast and the Furious.
Footage that I personally shot of the famous Tipperary Hill up-side-down traffic light in Syracuse, New York in the winter of 2005. This signal has red on the bottom and green on the top, the only signal like it in the country. Learn more about it by reading more about it on Wikipedia.com.
A Crouse-Hinds Type D/DT traffic light in a clip from New Line Cinema’s film The Notebook. I met Rachel McAdams on the set of a film I worked on and I have to say, she’s a really sweet person.
Car Talk’s Tom and Ray have a puzzler that tells about how the new traffic signals can have a design flaw, depending on the time of year.
Lyrics from the droning sounds of Monty Python’s I Like Traffic Lights.
Mike and Frank from American Pickers are picking in upstate New York when the come across the bones of an old Crouse-Hinds dummy signal. When the signal makes it back to Iowa, “Signalfan” John Rietveld is called to offer his expertise along with a photo from collector “NevadaWillis”. See more of American Pickers on The History Channel.
Factory Made features the McCain traffic signals in production from start to finish. Factory Made is no longer airing, but How It’s Made takes its place. Watch it on The Science Channel at www.ScienceChannel.com/tv-shows/how-its-made
A design team makes over a transportation-themed bedroom for some kids on A&E’s now-cancelled show Find and Design.
CG animated short film Going Green, by Thiago S. Aranha. Made for the Digital Film and Animation MA at the London Metropolitan University.
A clip from Cookie Jar Productions children’s cartoon “Caillou”.
The mascot of this series, Green Light, happens to be a traffic light.
This was a public service announcement video from 1968 explaining to “cross on the green, not in between.”
In “Red Light Green Light”, episode 23 of Season 1 of Bewitched, Samantha has to convince her mother that her help is not needed in choosing a traffic light for Morning Glory Circle. Watch Bewitched on Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Signalfan John Rietveld on HGTV’s Offbeat America, a show that highlighted the owners of eclectic homes and collections.
The excerpt from a 1950s film about careful driving features some old traffic lights and sequences which are non-standard by today’s regulations.
On the 1990s TV show Beakman’s World, someone writes in asking how traffic lights know when to change. Look for the show on Netflix. I thought this show was great and watched it whenever I could, but had never seen this episode. By the way, I have a signal exactly like the one behind Beakman.
A scene from a classic 1944 film The Woman in the Window featuring Edward G. Robinson screeching to a stop at a fixed 4-way traffic light with four semaphore arms.
Nina and Star on The Goodnight Show demonstrate how to make a traffic light bookmark. The channel is great for toddlers. Visit them at www.SproutOnline.com or check television listings for the Sprout Network.
Clips from the 1966 episode “Herman’s Lawsuit” on the classic television series The Munsters where he tangles with a traffic light and pedestrian signal while trying to cross the street.
Frank Fritz from The History Channel’s American Pickers grabs a nice 3-way Crouse-Hinds beacon needing a little TLC. One thing he didn’t notice was the missing reflector in the side he opened up. Also, traffic lights all used standard medium base bulbs, albeit a different wattage depending on the size or era of the signal.
One couple teams up on HGTV’s Flea Market Flip to turn a traffic light into a functional and working piece of furniture. I sold a signal to a friend who wanted to do this exact thing.
In this traffic light video, WEAR Channel 3 News reports on a new traffic signal system to save time on Pensacola, Florida roads. Visit WEARTV.com
to read up on the story.
From Disney-Pixar’s “Mater’s Tall Tales”, Mater and his new friend wreak havoc around Radiator Springs, including messing with one signalfan trying to enjoy his evening.
During the intro to the History Channel’s “The Epic History of Everyday Things” a quick nod is given to the first traffic light and the unfortunate event it was part of.
In 2012, Utah TV station KSL reports on the 100th birthday of Lester Wire’s traffic light design.
ABC News reports on a problem unique to the newer, energy-efficient traffic lights that only happens in the colder winter months plagued by snow.
Mr. Bean witnesses, what he considers to be, a loophole to get through a red light.
Popeye, Olive Oil, and Whimpy come across more than just a mirage during their journey through the desert.
A twisted traffic light is to blame for the death of a motorcyclist in Detroit, Michigan.
The History Channel gives an inside look at a time when traffic lights were new technology on Mysteries at the Museum.
For more episodes visit HistoryChannel.com
In 1979, Mattel Games introduced their line of Funtronic Games, including “Red Light Green Light”. I don’t remember if I got this for Christmas or my birthday, but I’ve had it ever since, and it still works.
In 2013, this Japanese inventor developed a way to avoid the sun phantom effect on traffic lights.
Clark County, Washington is continuing to replace incandescent traffic and pedestrian signals.
MDOT explains the benefits of the new LED traffic lights that are replacing old technology.
The trailer of The Loneliest Stoplight by American animator, graphic designer, cartoonist, and filmmaker, Bill Plympton. The full-length version of the short is available for purchase on Vimeo.
Fellow signal enthusiast John Kates recorded the entire LED conversion of two Crouse-Hinds Type DTs in North Carolina.
Tinkie Winkie the Teletubbie is learning what to do when he comes across a red traffic light.
Leo the Truck builds a traffic light to help get through an intersection.
Parts I and II of “Traffic Signal Systems – Go For The Green” from The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. Part I is General and Part II is Technical
Although we never see a traffic light, this episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet chronicles the only-on-TV speed of a traffic light installation at an intersection in town.
This clip from the 1950s film called “Law and Social Control” features a couple of old signals, one with command lenses.
Popeye and Brutus fight over Olive Oil for her fare. She inadvertently ends up controlling traffic.
One of the gremlins wreaks havoc with an open controller cabinet at a 4-way intersection with a Crouse-Hinds Type DT cluster.
In episode 1146, which originally aired March 8, 1971, Mr. Rogers needs to replace the lightbulb in his traffic light.