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. Mike

    Are you kidding me, people need to get a grip. 400 fatalities? I bet more people die from slipping on banana peels, but I should be quiet or they will start a campaign to get banana's banned. Sorry banana retailers. People need to go watch the movie V for Vendetta. Basically shows how all these nutjobs use fear to push their own agenda no matter how stupid. They are called accidents people, random things happen in life and you cannot protect everyone from everything. Sometimes when i drive the sun gets in my eyes, maybe we should outlaw driving during sunrise and sunset.

    September 11, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. andy

    whatever. i'll kill it anyway

    September 11, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jason

    I thought Canadians were supposed to be smarter than this? I mean, how stupid can you possibly be to put something in the rode that is going to cause MORE accidents to PREVENT accidents?

    September 11, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scott

    Yes, once fooled, a driver may hit a little girl thinking it's a decal. Or, to avoid the decal, the driver may head-on with another car. As a pilot, I have to have a proficiency check every two years. Why not drivers every five? Yes, the license would be more expensive. The truth is, safety goes up per mile driven every year. We grow less risk tolerant. If we really want safety, the most dangerous part of a car is the auto in automobile. Public transportation or in the future, cars that drive themselves. Planes can, why not cars?
    Until then, this is just too extreme, with unintended effects. The first driver that panic-brakes and gets rear-ended will sue, and win, put an end to the experiment.

    September 11, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ben

    I'd stop the car and start honking until the kid moved. Traffic behind me would have to wait. And after a while if she didn't move, I'd get out and start yelling at the kid, "C'mon already, pick up the ball and move!!"

    September 11, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ben

    Pretty soon you'll get a ticket even if you were going the speed limit because you didn't slow down or stop for the illusion.

    September 11, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Robert Haas

    SPEEDBUMPS! the greatest invention to insure safe and slow driving.

    September 11, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BMILLIGAN

    Like everything else that has to do with driving. Whenever they try to make something safe and harmless theres always a way it makes it dangerous and deadly...

    September 11, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pablo

    the story of the boy who cried wolf comes to mind. -___-

    September 11, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dd

    That's a foolish thing to desensitize drivers to. Bad idea.

    September 11, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sdgman

    That will desensitize drivers to children and more children will be hit because of this.

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

    To everybody saying this is boy who cried wolf, and people will simply drive over a real child....when is the last time you saw a little girl in the middle of the road, reaching for a ball, but she wasn't moving for several seconds? You can clearly see that the image doesn't move and it takes several seconds for the image to even come into focus. So at no point will the driver think it's a real girl. It's just a reminder.

    Jimmy made a brilliant suggestion. Traffic lights turn red if you are driving too fast, forcing you to stop. That would absolutely work and it hits people where they hurt, their own self interests "It's better I go slow so I get there on time. If I go fast, I have to deal with red lights and I'll be late". Genius.

    September 11, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dave

    Two words, "It's Canada."

    September 12, 2010 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  14. damn yank

    i'd rather see this method put to better use, a 3D 'slow down' message or something like that... only because i don't want to see pple get used to 'driving over' kids on the road

    September 12, 2010 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Gerald

      That's the idea! Much better idea here.

      September 12, 2010 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. steve

    This is pathetic and retarded. What if an image like this caused someone to swerve, or made a driver in a car behind another car think the car in front of it hit someone? This is so stupid.

    September 12, 2010 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
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