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. mrsubwayguy

    Don't let people in Canada drive?

    September 9, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • kv

      I live in Canada very close to where they are pulling this traffic stunt–and yes, we can handle driving just fine (if anything with all our mountains,. perhaps even better than some US drivers) BUT-this West Van "how to slow people down" is BS-and most people here know it too

      September 11, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Craig

    To the commenters "Lee" and "Sem", but most of all the CNN editor who reviewed this piece: the correct spelling is "brake".

    September 9, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • hugh

      maybe they mean "break" as in "break right"
      A little top gun in there for ya...

      September 9, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Drew

    People will become desensitized to these images and will give us southerners more reason to make fun of Canadians (Little girls in blue sweatshirts beware of Canadians with a few Molsens' in them they will just speed up). In all reality ( jk Canadians I love giving you guys surf lessons! And you tip well even the French) I don't see this going anywhere, it will be an interesting study on a few street corners and that it.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cookoo

    So, they place these things there and it deter's speeders. A few months down the road when they have all grown accustomed to these people begin speeding again... then wham... someone things it was one of these illusions and a kid gets hit. I could see this leading to more accidents not less.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SpellingPolice

    It's spelled "BRAKES", not "breaks" when referring to what slows down your car. Thank you.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matt

    Why don't they just paint a 3D illusion of Chuck Norris giving a dirty look?

    September 9, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • hugh

      ok, this is actually a brilliant idea. chuck rocks. he would stop me in my tracks.

      September 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vyserg

      The very image of that would cause peoples cars to explode.

      September 10, 2010 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kevin

    This is a stupid and dangerous idea!

    September 9, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. philipe12

    And we steadfastly refuse to install seat belts on school buses. Sure, we will shell out 40K for the safest car and make sure our kids are buckled in all the way to the bus stop. But after that we aren't really concerned about child vehicle safety.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coaster

      You know the seatbelts wouldn't do any good, most of the drivers take off before the kids are seated anyway. And if the kids don't put on the belts themselves, who's going to make them? Are they going to literally hold the bus hostage waiting for them to buckle up? (Lawsuits, you know) Or will it be optional, with the loose belts used as weapons? How many girls will be tied down for the boys to play with? How many kids will be tied to the seat by bullies? How many lawsuits will there be when the bus overturns and Little Johnny is thrown from the bus...lawsuits by sue-happy moms who can't be bothered to teach their children to respect authority and buckle th belt already?

      I agree that the way busses are driven, they need seatbelts, but with today's "all about me" culture, the schools could lose the ability to bus children at all if there were a lawsuit because of it. I'm so tired of seeing busses fly by me doing 50 in a 35 – a 35 school zone, or be going so fast they have to take the corner in the oncoming lane. I've known drivers to take off on purpose while children were standing. I've seen bus drivers driving with their elbows so they could hold the coffee in one hand and the dispatch radio in the other.

      September 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dea

    this will work only until the drivers get used to seeing it, start ignoring it, and end up hitting a real child.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bobby

    I'm fascinated by how the illusion works. There is an artist who does illusions like this on sidewalks with chalk. You may have seen his work floating around the Internet.

    While this is a very cool illusion, it is a poor use of it. More harm will come from this than good.
    Maybe we should put illusions of deer in the road where those types of accidents occur? What about an illusion of a wreck, complete with blood and body parts, at dangerous intersections?

    I just think it's bad judgement.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Schultz

      That illusion only works from a single vantage point when viewed monoscopically, which is why it's such a powerful effect when viewed on a computer screen. In person it would look like a pretty picture (from one vantage point only) but it would not appear to be three dimensional because your stereoscopic vision and cues from the rest of the surrounding environment, as well as your view as you approach the painting, would prevent the illusionary 3d interpretation of the image from ever taking hold in your mind.

      September 9, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Schultz

      That illusion only works from a single vantage point when viewed monoscopically, which is why it's such a powerful effect when viewed on a computer screen. In person it would look like a pretty picture (from one vantage point only) but it would not appear to be three dimensional because your stereoscopic vision and cues from the rest of the surrounding environment would prevent the illusionary 3d interpretation of the image from ever taking hold in your mind.

      September 9, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert Haas

      Speed Bumps. simple, safer and sturdy

      September 10, 2010 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  11. Troy

    what about if someone drives over the illusion only to realize after it wasn't an illusion....

    this is like the story about the boy who cried wolf. if you put too many drawings of kids on the road, people will think they are always drawings, and one day will run over a kid.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jose

    Better Idea, put a series of speed bumps and elevated roadways through the school zone that limit speed people can drive through without tearing up their cars. Well posted limits and then have a wrecker standing by to tow busted up cars away for a couple hundred buck a pop.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coaster

      This has always been my favorite solution. My neighborhood's HOA natzis won't put those elevated speed humps, or, speed regulators in because, they said, emergency vehicles might be damaged driving over them. Apparently, the emergency vehicles that respond to the surrounding neighborhoods, that have had them in place for years and years, are different than the ones that respond to my neighborhood. /sarcasm

      September 9, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coaster

      Oh yes, and I like the wrecker standing by, too. Boosting employment opportunities !

      September 9, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • jose

      Or incorporate a speed camera with pop up spike strips. No issue of who was driving the speeding vehicle. " More employment for wrecker drivers also".

      September 9, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. trbnrocks

    For those of you complaining that people will get used to it and someday hit a real child, the article says they are only leaving it up for a week.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. hugh

    This must be the dumbest idea in the world.
    Essentially, in the beginning, people will see these things and heart rates will elevate, adrenaline will surge, and decisions will become urgent. It will likely result in reduced speed, but also probably some erratic corrections of velocity.
    Later, however, when the campaign is mature, some little girl dressed in blue will be flattened while getting her ball off the street because some moron with only mediocre vision will think it is an optical illusion. She may be flattened at under 20kph, but she will be flat...

    September 9, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelle711

      It's a school zone. How fast are these people driving?

      September 9, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brad

    LOL I love it this is so stupid I cant wait tell someone decides that oh well its just a 3-D kid and doesnt bother stopping and kills a kid boy wont they feel stupid for putting that on the ground then way to go stupid.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:57 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