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)


    September 11, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cautiousto3D

    As someone below somewhat said this is a horrible idea because you're going to lead to desensitizing people. Yes at first its going to cause you to slow the hell down but after seeing this 3 or 4 hundred times on your same drive home in the EXACT same place throw a real kid out in the road and it could casually be ignored as 'oh its that stupid 3-d thing in the road'.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |


    September 11, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. West Van

    I've driven over this image and it's not how you think it fist see a coloured blob and you automatically slow down thinking what's this on the road – and then the image appears, and you think – oh! clever!... If you slam your brakes on because it appears suddenly, you were either speeding, asleep at the wheel or both. You have to be drunk to think it's really a child.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SEF

    It's all fun and games until someone swerves onto a sidewalk and hits a real kid to avoid a hitting a fake one. Good job, "safety group!"

    September 11, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Oblivinati

    What if you saw a real moving child and thought "oh they are getting better at making these things look realistic, technology these days EH!...... BOOM! woops"....... Maybe? I dunno, it just seems much safer to put 3D words instead.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jim

    A really dumb idea, another sign that isn't telling us anything. There are way too many of them now.

    If there is a speed problem, write some tickets, if not please don't give us more irrelevant signs we have to learn to ignore. There might be an important sign that will get lost in the haze of stupid ideas like this one.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nishant

    A : You just ran over that little girl , what were you thinking.
    B: Sh** , I thought it was another of those 3D illusions

    On a serious note, this isn't a good idea. @ jimmy has a better idea.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Really?

    A brilliant and utterly irresponsible idea. It's a stick-on oxymoron.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. myeyedea

    People forget that there's two ways to swerve – one is into on-coming traffic – the other is towards the sidewalk where all those kids you're trying to protect are standing...

    And I'm surprised that Canada has such a big problem with anything getting run over in the street – isn't it covered in snow year round with folks driving dog sleds all over the place?... 🙂 (jk!)

    Shock-jock actions do get results – I hope that this company and the officials who are allowing it to be tested are prepared to take full responsibility for any results that aren't the positive, safety-driven ones they're going for.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ronnie


    September 11, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Randy Johnson

    What if – what if – what if??? Blah blah blah – so its something new and all people can talk about is what is wrong with it. GAWD – I know the answer – lets NOT try anything 'new' – just keep on the relentless TV and radio drone about 'slow down and save lives' – yup just keep spending the bucks on the same old song and dance. Thats the answer folks.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Halo34

    Everyday I see 3-4 CHP cops on bikes in front of schools and they pull over multiple vehicles at once and most of them are Women in SUVs! The speed limits are 25-30mph in school zones but I think it should be like 15mph. Nevada has that law.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Blessed Geek

    Cry wolf – one day someone will speed thro over-running a real kid thinking it's an optical illusion.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mtdHouston

    For locations where it is posted that kids are crossing, schools, etc makes sense. My guess: use it gratuitously everywhere, people will ignore it after a while and kids will get hit more.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
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