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. jjr1968

    Fail...this "safety" device is going to get someone killed.

    September 11, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jrfoldes

    I think their heart is in the right place, but this is a disaster waiting to happen. First people may swerve to avoid the "child" into oncoming traffic, or worst yet into the sidewalk were there may be real people. Secondly, sooner or later people are going to figure out it is a fake and will just drive thru. This is a good tool in driver's ed, but not on real roads. I suggest using the method that was done in Toronto. They took a cardboard cut out of a cop with a radar gun and placed it on the sidewalk. To make this more effective every so often they would switch the cut out with a real cop (they actually sometimes used the cop who modeled for the cutout at times), this stopped desensitized drivers and was quite effective.

    September 11, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. FauxNews

    Of course, the real kids on the sidewalk will get hit when the driver swerves to avoid the painting.

    September 11, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Choralone

    So many of you fail at reading comprehension. Do you just read the headline, look at the picture(s), and then write your comment without reading the story?

    The image will be removed after one week. People won't get desensitized to it and "run over real children."

    September 11, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gumby

    This is absolutely ridiculous, and is guaranteed to cause accidents. I cannot believe busybodies think we need to be babysat like this. Enough already.

    September 11, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. oracle2world

    What happened to speed bumps? They haven't heard of them in BC?

    September 11, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gary

    I wonder how many rear end collisions this will cause? Our government, "stupid is as stupid does."

    September 11, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rob

    This is a reeeeeaaalllly bad idea. A speed bump would be smart, or increase the enforcement and signage....but this is just plain stupid. Unfortunately this is much more likley to cause accidents than prevent them.

    September 11, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Evan

    Pure genius. They should license this copyrighted decal for a nominal fee to every school zone in every country. This a more powerful than signs that read "Slow Down" and "School Crossing."

    September 11, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kirk

    Just one more example of the government being willing to lie in the name of something it advocates. The goal of keeping kids alive is commendable. thw willingness to lie to achieve it is just one more example of their 'ends justifying the means' thinking. The government is NOT trustworthy.

    But PLEASE, drive safe, wherever you go.
    BTW, speed-bumps force police, ambulances, and fire engines to slow down also; here in Pinellas county Florida these all are complaining that the bumps have got to go.

    September 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Patrick

    Drivers will quickly become desensitized to such gimmicks and when a situation does end up in front of their windshields they'll think it's just another decal.

    September 11, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joel

    The purpose of this is public education, and it appears to be working. The image gets people thinking about traffic safety and their role in it. Is it gimmicky? Yes, but that's the whole point. Gimmicks get attention, and obviously this one has gotten a lot of it. Other than the obvious trolls, everybody who has posted a comment here, regardless of their position, has at least thought about speeding in school zones.

    September 11, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chuck

    Instead of a child, why don't we make it of a half naked chick. That way, even if people get used to it, they will still drive slow to get a good look at the half naked chick. Maybe every week they can take off another piece of her cloths like strip poker. It just might work.

    September 11, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lorilyn

      Well, you actually have a point there. LOL

      September 11, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Landaux

    How bout making it a image of your worst enemy. 🙂

    September 11, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dave M.

    What happens when people get used to these things? The fact is that self absorbed idiots in a hurry will become complacent, and stop paying attention. I am willing to put money that in the long run it would lead to more kids being hit by cars rather than helping reduce occurances.

    September 11, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
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