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This Little Traffic Light Is (Maybe) for Sports Cars

I was in Dubai a few weeks ago, and I ran across something interesting: Little traffic lights, perched on traffic light poles, below the normal-sized traffic lights. You can see what I’m talking about in the image above: There’s a large traffic light facing traffic, just like we have in the United States. And then there’s a smaller traffic light, which looks like it’s about the size of a legal pad, down below. And I have a theory: I think these little traffic lights are for sports cars.

Here’s how this works: When you pull up to most intersections in Dubai, there aren’t traffic lights on the opposite side of the intersection like there are in the United States. So if you’re in a lower vehicle, you end up craning your neck to see the giant traffic light mounted directly next to you, which usually has those little tunnels over the light itself to direct the light — tunnels which, of course, make it even harder to see what color the light is reading if you’re sitting right next to it.

So they added these tiny little traffic lights below the big traffic lights, and they aimed them at the very first car stopped at the light, so you can see when it’s your turn to go. But what I noticed as I was driving around in my rented Toyota Land Cruiser Prado SUV is that I had no problem seeing the larger traffic light when I was sitting up high in my SUV. In fact, I only had a problem when I was in a low vehicle, like a sports car.

And so, I’ve come to the conclusion that the government in Dubai has installed these lights just for sports cars. Now, I admit, these lights aren’t unique to Dubai; you can also see them in parts of Europe and Asia, and maybe elsewhere in the Middle East. But I like to think Dubai specifically uses them because of the high contingent of sports cars in the country. Or perhaps it’s just for convenience. Either way, it’s kind of funny to see this little baby traffic light right below the big, regular traffic light we’re so used to seeing.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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