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

    If you can't discern this from a real child. Get of the road!

    September 12, 2010 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    In my state if you go over the speed limit in a school zone, you will receive a letter nice picture of your car taken by a camera, with a ticket enclosed. It's all automated. You can't imagine how slow people are going in those zones, including myself.

    September 12, 2010 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Tony

    Might work the first few times but then when a driver sees a real kid out on the street he might think it is one of these optical illusions.

    September 12, 2010 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Caroline

    Uhm, some speed cameras would fix speeding on that road. and some signs marking they they are used in the area. They are becoming more and more popular here in the US. And. usually when they go into effect on a road, the news media is all over it, so EVERYONE knows the locations of the new camera's, and everyone slows down b/c they know they are there now.

    September 12, 2010 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sugu

    So there is no mistaking and we drive through the illusion. We get used to driving through the illusions and possibly a driver could mistake a real child for an illusion and result in a horrible accident.

    The idea is new but I dont think it is a good idea.

    September 12, 2010 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. Paul

    People wilkl probably slow at firt then once they learn what it is, no longer slow. Then, when a real child is in the street, they may just think they changed the painting to add another. Or, suddenly swerve to avoid and clip the real kid on the sidewalk. (Some high school kids will probably end up painting over it.)

    Maybe they should just have go flat spikes pop up out of the ground when you pass over a sensor too fast? Or just have a permanent officer there? Maybe speed bump?

    September 12, 2010 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. j in west vancouver

    this is the most useless piece of bird turd ever!
    i live in west vancouver where this joke is being played out.
    west vancouver is the richest neighbourhood in canada.
    but!maybe they should focus their efforts on the corrupt west van police force!?
    west van police are the most racist cops in canada!

    September 12, 2010 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. Devil's Advocate

    Next time, paint a bank bag with money coming out the top. That'll get the traffic slowed.

    September 12, 2010 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. adam c

    the way to end speeding altogether is wide use of photo radar. However, they won't due it because speeding tickets have become another form of taxation, and welfare for people employed by the police department.

    September 12, 2010 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joel Dockery

    Popular themes in these comments are that accidents don't happen at 15 mph or that they won't be serious at that speed. I'm sure that will console the parents whose child gets run over at "only 15 miles per hour" because some dimwit decided to place an illusion in the middle of the street. Tell me, are there not enough real children to look out for in this school zone?

    September 12, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. GIMP

    Who comes up with this stuff? Fake potholes – yes. People will slow down and it won't matter when they drive up and find them to be fake. Fake kids – who on earth could come up with an idea this bad? Over time drivers will stop being cautious when real kids are out there. I just can't see any good coming from this bad idea. How could an idea this dumb make it all the way to production with nobody having the sense to take the fake children out of final implementation? Come on Canada, this is just dumb.

    September 12, 2010 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    Speed cameras in school zones in Maryland slow down traffic and bring money to fix the roads. I have contributed $40 involuntarily myself, once and for all. 🙂

    September 12, 2010 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. Marcello

    What a bad idea !
    Maybe the image of a policemen on the side of the road giving you a ticket makes more sense, but overall to play with images is not good, and this is in one of the worst possible way. Already too many controlling policemens around, and it's better to keep a strong sense of what is real and what not.

    September 12, 2010 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. StupFD

    Perhaps they could include pictures of political with children playing. The idea would be to avoid running over the children or lose 10 points and you would get 5 points for running over the politician. Kind of like police gun training.

    September 12, 2010 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  15. Derek

    Whatever happened to the days of teaching kids to look both ways before crossing the street? If they don't, splat! Survival of the fittest... seems like people with stupid children are trying to impede the lives of the rest of us. Just let them die! It's the natural order of things.

    September 12, 2010 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
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