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. SuperMarketIdea

    They should place these decals in supermarkets. I want to see a life-size box of cheerios standing in the middle of an isle. Better yet, they should place them at Home Depot so I can see at least a fake "orange helper" once in a while. Better than NEVER seeing an orange helper these days.

    September 10, 2010 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. Awesome Idea

    Too bad it wouldn't fly in the US. There'd be lawsuits for emotional distress, someone would drive into a telephone pole and blame the meme, then someone would go on a rampage and run over children intentionally while blaming the meme for desensitization, then someone creative would paint a huge mustachio on the meme and Mexicans would sue for racism... sigh... too bad it wouldn't work here because we need something like this.

    September 10, 2010 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. HELP

    Hey guys, will you visit SaveStan.ORG a man with 4 young babies is fighting for his life……… Thanks

    September 10, 2010 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sarah

    Novel idea, but won't it cause an even bigger problem when some idiot who's not paying good attention slams on his breaks and causes and accident? Speed bumps would be more effective I would think

    September 10, 2010 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. NO

    This is an extremely dangerous precedent to set. Pretty soon drivers in the area are comfortable with the idea that this is not real, and they quit slowing down. Around the corner they see another one and don't slow down....guess what, this one's for real and someone gets hurt. Don't mess with driver perception and undo natural reactions. It's the natural, unthinking reactions that save lives

    September 10, 2010 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. Li Tai Fang

    This is an absolutely retarded idea I cannot describe in words. In a short time, drivers will get used to the illusion. Then, he/she will drive right an actual girl chasing a ball on the street because he thinks it is a 3D illusion.

    September 10, 2010 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sean

    Are they expecting everyone to be driving in the area for the first time. You think people won't catch onto the fact that that cartoon image is not an actual girl. Personally such tomfoolery would inspire me to drive faster if it got me the first time

    September 10, 2010 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. SteveM

    Anything that will help prevent accidents is fine with me. I guess the people who are against this don't care if their kids get run over.

    September 10, 2010 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jim

    SO what happens if they use projectors?

    September 10, 2010 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. Brian B

    Wonder what it looks like on a cloudy day. The painting is bright and cheerful, if it's overcast or raining people might think there is an angel child glowing in the road.

    September 10, 2010 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. Cyndi

    I'm really not sure how much effect this will have. I know when I'm driving what I'm looking for is movement. My mind tends to translate static images as "billboard, no threat, carry on."

    September 10, 2010 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. Robert Haas

    SPEED BUMPS!!!!!!!!! they DO slow people down, are sturdy and immensely practical. If made of the right materials, they will last far longer and be more effective than a contorted image of a child. If your car is damaged by the speed bump, You are either going too fast or not paying attention .The speed bump zones can be clearly idenitified.

    September 10, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • NMCB

      stop using logic

      September 10, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert Haas

      I like this! This is the best solution. SPEEDBUMPS! the great leveler.! No one can ignore them.

      September 11, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DennisH

    This will cause accidents. If I see a kid, I slam on the brakes. And the person behind me has no warning of it. Bad idea.

    September 10, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. Harry Anderson

    This is a VERY BAD IDEA. This is going to be very confussing to drivers and eventually somebody is going to run over a real child thinking it is one of these optical illusions.

    This will actually put more children in danger!

    September 10, 2010 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  15. Chaz

    Don't Cry Wolf

    September 10, 2010 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
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