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."

Post by:
Filed under: Canada • Child safety
soundoff (547 Responses)
  1. Mrs. Tiger Woods

    Invented by Stu Pid.

    September 10, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. Very Bad Idea

    I believe this will soon take the opposite effect. Drivers will soon believe that it's a 3D image even if a read kid was around and speed up instead of slowing down and hurt more kids. If you try to fake something, it will come back with an avalanche to hurt you even if you did it for a good reason. Don't do this.

    September 10, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Dianne

      I agree, the image may very well create "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" driver response in drivers over time. An inaminate object illiciting a shock value as well.

      September 10, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Doug

    Hey CNN alleged professional journalist, it's "brake", not "break".

    September 10, 2010 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. drunk driver

    Look , ....what is that a kid ?
    Oh that, no , don't worry is just a 3D illusion.
    Oh (*&^(*&^&*^&^

    Hello , 911 ?....

    September 10, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  5. Padmanabham

    I wish the 3D painting was either a orange safety cone or a big boulder. As time passes by people get immune to this painting , (thats how the brain works..). So If they accidently run over a real Orange cone or a big boulder in the future, only the vehicle will be damaged, no life would be lost

    September 10, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • NMCB

      you want a giant boulder in the middle of the road...?

      September 10, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. old driver

    "Preventable says risk assessments have been undertaken....."
    is like asking the fox if it will take good care of your hens..... yeah right.

    September 10, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tom

    What an incredibly dumb idea – on so many levels. I bet this only lasts 15 minutes.

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

    Some creative teenager with paint and markers could turn the little girl decal into a zombie. Then drivers would speed up to hit it.

    September 10, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. Yang

    Do you understand the future implications of this? If people begin to recognize that this is just a decal on the street to help enforce speed – Imagine if a real child was picking up a ball on the street but a driver was under the influence of a 2D decal. Think about it first before you implement it.

    September 10, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joe Gerken

    How long will it be before a drive runs over a real child, thinking that she is only a 3-d image?

    September 10, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. .....

    it just silly cus then everybody knows that the kid its just a panit

    September 10, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  12. Diana Croissant

    It might work at first but then they will believe that when they see a child in the street it just an 3D and you will have a hurt orworst problem.

    September 10, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim

    This is a bad idea. Like the boy that cried wolf. You get used to seeing kids in the road chasing balls and are conditioned to ignore them LOL. Not to mention it could distract you from other dangers since you will be focusing on the kid. What is wrong with rumble strips and speed traps?

    September 10, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chuck

    hopefully people don't see a real child in the street and think it is just a picture–then run them over!!!!!

    September 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    I some company tried that stunt in America, I would take great pleasure in painting over it. Leave it to the silly Canadians to make the wrong decision once again.

    September 10, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26