First installed in London by a railway engineer in 1868, traffic lights are used in just about every city on the planet today. In the most basic sense, drivers have learned that red means stop, green light means go and that yellow indicates that caution is due as the signal is in the process of change. Even an elementary school child understands that traffic flows through a green and yellow light, but running a red light is not only dangerous, but it is against the law.

Yet China has now rewritten the rules.

On January 1, 2013, it became illegal to drive through both red and yellow lights in the Asian country. Those cited more than once will likely lose their driving privileges. The aggressive rule follows a crackdown by Chinese authorities aimed at reducing the estimated 250,000 road traffic fatalities the country experiences each year – a figure that makes road accidents the leading cause of death among residents between the ages of 15 and 44, says the World Health Organization.

The physics behind the law are flawed, as many in China have already criticized, as it is impossible to legally stop for a light without knowing when the signal is going to change. Many argue that the new regulation will grind traffic to a halt, as drivers are scared to proceed through even green lights. Despite the controversy, China's Ministry of Public Security continues to defend its odd ruling.