Traffic lights

The first traffic lights were manually operated and gas powered. In 1868 in downtown London there must have been a great need for this as horses, carts and barrow pushers whizzed by out of control.

At the time the traffic was offered 2 options – A red light meant ‘Stop’, and the green light meant ‘Caution’.

It was not until 1869, a whole year later, that this device, this represenatation of modern technology caused its’ first fatal accident.

I know, you’re imagination has taken you to the world of the high-speed collision between ‘Roseys’ had-picked turnips’ and ‘Jimmys’ interesting rocks’ barrows.


The traffic lights in question exploded, killing the poor unfortunate policeman who was operating them.

In 2006 the fine people of the Northern Dutch town of Drachten took part in a traffic experiment. 12 of their 15 sets of traffic lights were removed. Instead of there being the bloodbath that I’m sure many of you imagined – the rate of serious accidents actually decreased.

People became more wary – Hans Monderman, the developer of this new system, likened it to ice-skating etiquette.

No, me either – just try to imagine – ok? Skaters, although they fly around the rink at crazy speeds, work things out for themselves.

Imagine that – they take responsibility. We don’t batter into the folk in front of us as we queue at the ATM. We work it out.

We take responsibility for ourselves.
When I’m out walking in the countryside, up hills and down dales for example, there are no signs that say,
‘Watch out for the aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhh!!!!’ The terrain is all potentially hazardous – I take care.

When I recently fell on a pavement in Edinburgh the words of the multitude of ‘no win – no fee’ adverts cascaded through my head. ‘Have you recently done something to hurt yourself, but would like to blame someone else? Call….’

Imagine if we lived in a world where there were no signs that told us that the obviously uneven ground was uneven or that the floor was slippery when wet. Would we all just batten down our hatches because the world was just too scary?

Probably not.

Ok, here’s a bit of a leap. Older people with dementia suffering from starvation and thirst in UK hospitals and care homes. Food and water is placed close to them. Close enough for your ordinary folk to reach over to feed and water themselves. But they can’t, they don’t or they won’t.The food is then taken away when it’s cold.

Recent news articles cry out for better training. What better training is there than your own common sense? Then take a look at all the prescriptive directions given to the carers of our older people. Instead of a simple red – amber – green they are presented with every colour of the rainbow.

Why did you crash? ‘The traffic lights were faulty’

Why did the old person die of starvation? ‘The policy documents weren’t clear enough’

Take away some of the traffic lights and our older people will live better lives.

Walk a mile in their shoes.


This entry was posted in mental health, Uncategorized, walking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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