September 9th, 2010
07:11 PM ET

3D illusion in street tries to change drivers' attitudes

The 2D decal becomes a 3D illusion as drivers approach it.

What would happen if you saw a 3D illusion of a young girl chasing a ball across the street near a school? 

A Canadian safety group hopes you'd slow down and think twice about speeding through a school zone. Critics of the image say it might scare drivers and lead to accidents. 

Either way, she's got your attention, which is the point, said a spokesman for Preventable, a British Columbia-based safety awareness group behind the stunt. 

"This is a way to reinvigorate what becomes a pretty tired message every year. We become anesthetized to the risks related to driving, but the risks are very real, especially in British Columbia, where we have more than 400 fatalities each year related to motor vehicles," said David Dunne, Director of the Traffic Safety Foundation and spokesperson for Preventable. 

Video: Will drivers stop for 3D illusion? 

The 45-foot, heat-treated 2D decal will stay on a busy intersection near the Ecole Pauline Johnson in West Vancouver for a week. The illusion's debut on Tuesday coincided with the start of school year, when children are at the greatest risk of pedestrian-related injuries, Preventable says on its website. 

The group, which uses guerrilla marketing in campaigns focusing on preventable injuries, developed the image with the support of the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation, the District of West Vancouver, School District #45 West Vancouver, and the West Vancouver Police. 

With the help of a Youtube video that shows how it appears to an approaching driver, the illusion has sparked intense debate in British Columbia and outside Canada, with some claiming it could lead drivers to swerve or brake abruptly in a school zone. 

But Preventable says a detailed risk assessment was undertaken to address such concerns. 

Before drivers approach the image, they pass a "School Zone" sign, crosswalk, an extended curb and a sign by Preventable that reads, "You’re probably not expecting kids to run out on the road." 

The figure begins to take shape from about 50 feet away and appears in 3D for another 40 feet until the driver it about 10 feet away, where the image recedes into a "blob" on the street," Dunne said. 

"As you’re driving over it, it's not like driving over a little girl. The illusion, as it appears, looks like a cartoon, I've likened it to the difference between a photo and a cartoon." 

Preventable and its partner groups are monitoring the image to ascertain  how it affects drivers' behavior. In the meantime, the attention it has drawn has accomplished its intended effect,  said Dunne. 

"If hundreds of people were killed each year in British Columbia because of the airline industry, we wouldn't accept it. And these injuries and fatalities are preventable," he said. 

"We need to change people's attitudes to really change their behavior. Sometimes you have to get in people's faces to change their attitudes."

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Filed under: Canada • Child safety
soundoff (547 Responses)
  1. A.P.E.E.

    I agree. Because it can warn people. it can also extended to the park, alley, car entrance and corner. To reduce traffic injuries. We suggest it can change illusion just like policeman , animals ...... **^___^**

    October 20, 2010 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. i need big boobs

    This is a very creative idea, but useful?
    Do we have to use “child image” as the object?
    We think replaced by other patterns will be fine.
    For example: painting a Ferrari 599 or put a big boobs (E cup) hot girl (XD) as it will make people slow down lol.

    October 20, 2010 at 5:52 am | Report abuse |
    • WoW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I agree !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      October 20, 2010 at 5:56 am | Report abuse |

      I AGREE

      October 20, 2010 at 5:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. yu-yu-ya

    We think the sort of deterrent to speeding is of no use, but this event can let driver pay more attention to speeding issue.

    October 20, 2010 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dan

    If this kid illusion on the road in Taiwan, it would cause a heavy traffic jam and intense debate, especially on Ghost month. So you can put a picture of Buda in your car, it’ll protect you.

    October 20, 2010 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
  5. small taco

    Maybe the government can use the picture of policeman at the pole beside the road.
    Because the picture is not on the road, the driver would be shocked.

    October 20, 2010 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. toshiba

    I think it’s not a good idea.
    The picture will work for the time being, when people don’t care about picture, whatever it’s real or fake children, it will be hit by idiot drivers.
    So don’t waste your money and time.

    October 20, 2010 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. Steffy

    @kuma-san I'm 13 and know that reading the article may help you to know what's going on. Try that or ask your parents.

    It's real sad if a little kid gets hit but don't people teach their kids to stay out of the road to avoid this. If I was on a street and not on a crosswalk and with an adult while I was little I got in BIG trouble. Accidents happen but tryin to fake people out for a reality check could be worse.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Shane

    Drivers might hit their brakes as they drive through the school zone? I'm ok with this.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Know Your Meme

    Steffy. It's an internet meme. Google exactly what they said and you'll see it's just a joke.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rules 1 and 2

    learn them

    September 9, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mike

    in florida cops give tickets for speeding in school zones, thats how you fix the problem

    September 9, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave Dobrin

    Remind me not to buy my daughter a blue and white striped shirt, short jeans and a blue ball. Seriously, I agree that drivers will get desensitized to the image and play with it, not unlike changing your speed when you see the "Your Speed Is" signs that post your radar speed. I also agree that an unaware driver may react late and swerve into oncoming traffic or the sidewalk instantly calculating that "it's certain to hit the girl if I don't do anything, I might not cause harm if I swerve to...". The law of unintended consequences is going to come into play on this one, big time, and with disasterous results. Sidewalk art is great.....on the sidewalk.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. A CNN Reader

    Its something to try and save your life because kids dont think all the time before yall run out into the street. A 60 pound child is no match for a 4000 pound motor vehicle...

    September 9, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chopz

    the use of a 4chan meme wasn't needed.

    September 9, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jimmy

    I have a better idea. My county's Chief Deputy agrees with my idea, but does not know how to get it rolling. The speed-measuring device that is in the portable, roadside devices that display your speed could be used to turn a traffic light RED if a set speed is exceeded. It could be changed with a timer (the same one that turns on the warning lights) in school zones. This idea would be simple to build and install (NO new technology), and would work perfectly! Drivers would learn very soon that slowing down is better than having to stop.

    September 9, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
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