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. JerryLemco

    If you are 50 ft away going 15 MPH you will realize the child is not moving. You should always pay attention to children in the road or near the road – real or not. If you become desensitized then you are an absolute idiot and your license should be revoked (remember – it's a priviledge, not a right). I think it's a great idea and will only draw attention to watching out for children to the morons that speed through school zones. Better yet put in photo radar in all the school zones and fine the owner of the car $1000 for anytime the vehicle is caught exceeding the speed limit through the zone. I know, the argument will be that I (the owner) wasn't driving, so how can you fine me? Read the Highway and Traffic Acts in most if not all of the country, you as the owner are ultimately responsible for ensuring your vehicle is operated in a lawful manner (unless it's stolen – but then how did you get it back?).

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

      If you are already going at 15mph you do NOT need to be reminded to slow down by the decal. The decal is supposed to remind those distracted drivers doing 40mph in a school zone, which, ironically will likely to distract them more.

      September 9, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • jane

      If you are going 15 mph, at 50 ft you have about 2 seconds to decide whether it's real or not (the article says it appears real until about 10 ft away). So a kid doesn't move in 2 seconds, are you really going to decide it's a fake, and keep going? Then what about the real kid who freezes for those two seconds... or even one second, and then the driver isn't fast enough to process the information, realize it's a real child, and brake instead of continuing on? All that is at the legal speed of 15 mph.

      This is a stupid idea even at 15 mph.

      September 10, 2010 at 4:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. johnny8

    can't wait to run over fake kids too!

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

    car get rear ended trying to avoid a fake child....

    September 9, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rob

    In a related story, the amount of unmarked vans driving through the area has nearly quadrupled.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cieje Valentine

      LOL! Sick, Sad, Wrong, but HILARIOUS!!

      September 10, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. justsayin

    I would assume that before they implement these on a larger scale they would publicize their use so poeple would know what they're all about . They would eventually have the same effect as speed bump or school zone ahead with the added enforcement of just what you could be putting at risk.
    "Cause an Accident " – typical over reaction of the feeble minded .

    September 9, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jason

    Does anyone else see a "Cry Wolf" reaction.

    People will become accustomed to seeing children in the road, and not slowing for them... with tragic results.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelle711

      What idiot becomes accostomed to seeing children in the road? Or am I giving people way too much credit?

      September 9, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gyngve

    It may work at first, but once regular drivers recognize that the image is always there, they'll learn to ignore it, intentionally or not intentionally.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Arya

    Bad, bad bad idea. Do this enough across the country and people would become immune to it. I think it would directly result in MORE accidents.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rob

    Death Race 2000 would need to recalculate the points issued.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Canuck boy

    Gotta love the majority of Americans who responded to this news piece by criticizing a novel and inventive Canadian approach, calling it the stupidist idea they've ever heard (read?) and offering nothing by way of suggestion. Thanks so much for your constructive input. Maybe you guys can burn a few more Korans and then offer some nonsensical argument like "fighting against terrorism" as justification.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • wise old owl

      cant wait til the border is closed

      September 9, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Simi

      Come on, its may be a new idea, but a bad idea is a bad idea regardless of whether you live in the US or Canada. In the US we have flashing lights before the school zone, and crossing guard keeping an eye out to make sure no one forgets the speed limit. Its better than drawing fake kids on the road.

      September 9, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobT

      Trying to "fool" somone into thinking that a CHILD is IN THE ROAD? What do you next do? When they hit a tree yell "Punked" at them?

      September 12, 2010 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jason D

    PROBLEM--if the people slow down good, what happens when its gone and there is a kid and someone thinks its one of these and runs over it..who will sue who then?

    September 9, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gog

    So when a kid really gets hit by a car the driver will say he thought it was the road sticker. Bad idea.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. star

    Hmm. A great idea...on paper...at first. What happens after people realize its just an illusion? Then one day a real kid chases a ball into the street, but the cerebellum says, "nah, just one of those decals..." thump thump. Dead kid.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rob

    Canuck boy, don't get your canadian undies in a bunch. My novel idea is let Darwinism do its thing. We've used it in the past, it's time we let Darwin start weeding out the weak again. I can understand a Canadian being worried about that approach, but don't worry, we'll tell the world your story....

    September 9, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • wise old owl

      yeah why dont we just paint a canuck on the road, oops just scored one

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

    3-d pop-ups ..... an interesting concept but good grief don't use the image of a child thats a sure way to cause an accident. a warning sign or some inanimate object might be more appropriate.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
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