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Red and Blue Lights

It is summer, and that means that thousands of families will be taking to the highways of America for vacation. We have all been a little too anxious to reach our destination at some point and have looked behind us to see the flashing lights of a friendly police officer coming to remind you of the local speed limit. The bright red and blue lights of emergency vehicles are a common sight on roadways across the world, but how were these colors chosen as the most effective way to warn motorists?

Throughout motoring history the most common emergency lights were red. However, as the amount of motorists on the road increased in the post-World War Two consumer boom some problems began to develop. The sheer amount of drivers on the road called for a scientific solution to warning drivers and getting their attention. As a result of studies conducted by various governmental and insurance organizations the red and blue lights we are now familiar with were informally standardized. There are three main scientific reasons why this color combination beat out all others.

The first reason for the combination of blue and red lights is that red lights were found to blend in with taillights in areas of high traffic. It was also discovered that red lights were highly visible at night, whereas blue lights were much more visible during the day.  The final reason for the combination of colors is that colorblind motorists may have a difficult time discerning the red flashing lights.

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