Percy Shaw

There are not likely too many who know the name but he provided a very important little invention in 1934. Have ever notice those little reflectors on the highway? Well, we can thank Percy for them.

To be sure, over the years they have undergone many changes. Today if we see white reflectors, we can be pretty sure that we are going the right way. If we are going the wrong way, the reflectors are red. Come to think of it, there are likely not many that know that. I didn’t know it until one day I was riding at night and saw the reflectors were red. With no oncoming traffic, it took me about two seconds to realize I was going the wrong way. I simply thought I was in the center lane.

A short time later, I did see some oncoming traffic and I sure was glad I figured things out.

There are orange reflectors too. Normally they indicate the center line. However they are used for other things too. Blue reflectors indicate a fire hydrant. It makes it easier for the firemen to find them. Occasionally, green markings are used too.

The nice thing is that they can easily be seen in the dark, in the rain and generally in the fog. Before their general use I noticed that when it rained, the white lines had a tendency to disappear. The light from my headlights reflected off the lines and continued away from me. With the reflectors, the light is bounced back to me. This is especially nice because the reflectors do not need any electricity or wiring. They use the light from our headlights.

I cannot imagine what their cost is, though it can’t be much. Somewhere, some factory must be turning them out by the thousands, if not millions. Whatever the cost, it is likely well worth it. I am convinced they save lives every day.

The little reflectors are used all over the world. I would suspect that they are even used in China and Russia, though they both likely claim they invented them. I really don’t believe they were invented in any communist country. The invention was made for profit. In communism, there is no profit. Percy was likely a capitalists. Though he knew his invention would be good, his primary goal was to make a pound or two from them. (He was English) It is called capitalism and without it, the little reflectors would have not been invented for years, maybe never.

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