Shrouds on traffic signals serve more than one purpose

The in basket: As I sat at a stop light one recent afternoon, I watched the signals on the side street, waiting for a subtle change from green to amber on the signal heads, which I couldn’t really see. The circular shrouds that protrude from all traffic signal lamps conceals the impending change unless it’s dark.

I wondered if that’s the reason for them,  to keep antsy motorists from jumping or at least matching the light change and getting a quick start. That would negate the benefit of the one-second delay nearly all signals have between the light turning red in one direction and green in a conflicting direction.

The out basket: That’s one of the reasons, says Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways.

“The purpose of the visors is multifold: 1) to make the lights more visible to motorists facing them; 2) to help reduce washout from other light sources such as the sun; and 3) to shield the lights  from the view of drivers on adjacent or side streets that would be conflicting traffic movements,” she said.

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