#TIL: 2 Simple inventions that shaped the safety and future of mobility

2 min readMar 24, 2021


By Anish Michael

Source: Pixabay and Tim Simpson via Flickr/cc

The impact of inventions on society has never really been overnight. Some take their full shape and form over time. Centerlines and cat-eye reflectors- 2 simple inventions from a century ago continue to play a significant role in today’s mobility. Here’s how they came about.

1. Road centerlines- Divide and drive

Prior to centerlines drivers often veered into oncoming traffic, endangering lives. In 1911, Edward Hines conceived the idea of painting centerlines to separate traffic. He was inspired after seeing milk spill from a delivery wagon on a newly-paved road. The first painted centerline was used in Wayne country, Michigan. This simple white line has since kept traffic within lanes.

2. Cat Eyes- reflecting your safety

In 1934, Percy Shaw developed the reflective cat eyes to help drivers follow the road at night. The idea came when one night he noticed how two points of light had helped him steer clear of the edge of the road, later realising his headlights had caught the eyes of a cat. Percy realised the great potential of improving road safety by fitting reflective devices in road surfaces.

These simple inventions seem very mundane to our daily lives, but their impact on us and mobility are immense.

As the world hurtles towards new mobility innovation and inventions, a lesson from history teaches us to just look around! An inspiration to innovation takes a simple observation.

So next time we step out let’s keep our eyes open to shape the future of mobility!

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