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How quickly do we respond to colors?Featured science projectScience project video


This science fair project was performed to evaluate how different colors encountered while driving influence one's response time. The colors used for the experiment were red, amber and green.


Red color lights will produce the fastest human response.

Scientific Terms

Reaction time, mentally process, physical response, response time


Reaction time and traffic lighting

The reaction time of a driver involves the time required to mentally process the occurrence of an event, the time required for the signal from the brain to reach the muscle in the driver's limbs, and the response time of a mechanical device like the brakes in the car. Most times, drivers need to respond to the changing colors of traffic lights, the rear brake lights of the car in front or sudden incidents like a car or a pedestrian crossing into the path of his car.

Traffic lights are normally positioned at road intersections in order to regulate the flow of traffic. The colors used are red, amber and green. The red color signals the driver to stop . Amber signals the driver to prepare to stop as the light is about to turn red. Green tells the driver it is safe to drive on. Automobile lighting consists of headlight, rear lights and signal indicator lights. The headlights are normally white or light yellow in color. The rear and brake lights are red in color. Signal and turning lights are amber color. The separation of colors helps other drivers easily identify the front and rear of the car, and the intentions of the driver (for example, if the driver is about to turn right or left).

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 1 hour for the science fair project experiment
Material availability:
May be obtained at an electronics hobby store
Safety concerns:

Basic safety requirements