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. Lorilyn

    Even if it doesn't cause accidents, which I think it probably will, it's only going to work the FIRST time someone drives up & sees it. After that it's likely that everyone will expect it & then when there really IS a child in the street, they aren't going to slow down for it.

    September 11, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacqueline

      I completely agree with you &others who have posted a similar message.... I can really only see this having negative outcomes when people start mistaking real children for 3D images! I think there are much safer ways of bringing attention to road safety than tricking into thinking there's a child chasing a ball into the road. I think this will only desensitize drivers to this image- be it real or fake and will end it catastrophe!

      September 11, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kadie

    Here's a good question...where are the parents and teachers in the the "school zone" that should be watching these kids and preventing them from going into the busy intersection??

    September 11, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Quatro-chan

    Rules 1 and 2 don't apply to 4chan, just the directory.

    Re: article. What is this I don't even.

    September 11, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tommy DB

    This is a bad idea. Yeah first time I slow down, second time slow down but think why did I just slow down, by fourth time going normal speed. Sometime later kid runs across the street, yeah just another painting but the bump feels real, those wacky folks at the transportation authority always coming up with a better design.

    September 11, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. josh

    search "invisible rope" on Youtube......

    September 11, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. harleydavidson

    THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA!!!!!!. WHO'S THE IDIOT WHO THOUGHT OF THIS???? EVER HEARD OF THE BOY THAT CRIED WOLF? Eventually, drivers might ignore a real one thinking it's another prank.

    September 11, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    Great, after a few months drivers will just keep accelerating when they see a kid in the road, thinking it's a decal!

    September 11, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. From Vancouver

    Droze through the school zone trippin on acid...... what a trip man..... giant little girl chasing a ball....... woooooaaaahhh

    September 11, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mike

    it seems to me that once drivers realize it's an illusion, their attention will stay on it out of fascination. while it may make them slow down, it may also distract them from a real child about to run out in front of them.

    September 11, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. drock

    so running over children is a big problem in that neighborhood?

    September 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. HELP

    Hey guys, will you visit SaveStan . ORG a friend of mine with 4 young babies is fighting for his life…… thanks.

    September 11, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John

    I don't know how many of you saw the YouTube video metioned in the article, but I watched it numerous times and it never looked like a 3D image; it always looked to me like a drawing in cinemascope. If it were on an incline and your line of sight was equal with the street itself, the vehicle's speed was slower, or I only looked at it for a moment at exactly the right time, perhaps the experience would be different.

    September 11, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Denny

    They've also got holograms that make up half of our UFO sightings, and fines for people who interfere with traffic.

    September 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Unenrolled in Massachusetts

    Bad idea. I can hearit now. After running over a child without hitting the brakes, man says, "Uh gee, officer, I thought it was just one of those dumb illusions."

    September 11, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mark

    I live in one of the neighbouring cities. If you knew the people in West Van, you would understand how some thought this train-wreck would be a good idea.

    September 11, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
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