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. TW

    Did any of you bother to watch the YouTube video?? It becomes VERY clear that the 'girl' is not real WELL before the car is close enough to have to 'slam on it's breaks' or 'swerve to avoid her'. If anyone does slam on their brakes or swerve, they absolutely should NOT be driving.

    September 9, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MRC

    This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. Basic psychologically. Once people get used to the fact that something can be ignored they start ignoring it. Somebody is actually advocating a mechanism that will cause people to learn to ignore seeing a child in the street. That's insane.

    September 9, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TTommy

    Brilliant!!! I've seen the same kind of illusions of speed bumps. If it saves one life, it's worth it.

    September 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. um

    um wat if a driver sees it upsidedown?

    September 9, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BryGuy-AK

    Bad idea. Period. I find it hard to believe it was ok’d to place a driving hazard in the path of a motorist. I can think of a number of other images that could have been used to reduce or completely eliminate swerve or sudden breaking. Paint a high looking speed bump or dip, with road cones, or a large puddle, a message stating the fine amount for speeding. Anything drivers are ok with driving over if they don’t see it in time.
    This image is going to cause a lawsuit. A driver is going to swerve and cause an accident, especially in low visibility conditions. It only takes on person to swerve and kill a bicyclist riddling along side or slam on the breaks causing a serious accident. Use a different image, not a child in the road.

    September 9, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. wise old owl

    what happena when some dim witted child decides to be cute and tries standing on the pop up to see what the driver does

    September 9, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gabriela'

    not a good idea! it will cause traffic jams, a false alarm towards driviers.

    September 9, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. eh

    Don't speed bumps work anymore? If this idea works, that's great, but personally, I think it would be more of a hazard. So you know, maybe take it off before someone swerves to miss the illusion and hits a real child in the school yard....

    September 9, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tim

    On an unrelated note, several girls in blue and white striped shirts chasing pink balls were hit by cars today.

    September 9, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Paul

    Someone should spray paint that black TONIGHT. Who ever came up with this idea should really read the story Never Cry Wolf..... What a retarded idea!!!

    September 9, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dr. Mama

    I applaud this! Anything that slows down testosterone-soaked drivers (pardon me, but most speeders ARE male) is worthwhile.

    September 9, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mary

    I think people will come to a screeching halt some times...Or could get used to it and when they see a real child not connect it fast enough to stop..
    Maybe not the best idea.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David Schultz

    It's stupid and misleading to call this a "3d illusion". Illusions like these are only compelling when viewed in two dimensions on a video screen. If you saw this in real life, it would like like a blob of color from far away, then it would like like a flat picture of a kid on the ground as you approach it, and then it would like like a flat but elongated picture as you drive over it. It would never look like an actual 3d person standing in the road. When you drive over letters and other symbols on the road, do they ever seem to "pop out" and look like they are standing three dimensional objects? Of course not, and neither would this.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Brian Macker

    Let's get drivers used to driving over children. Sounds like a genius idea.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. The Fury

    I think this is a good idea to a point. Unfortunately drivers will get used to it and just drive right on through like nothing has happened.

    And what if a real child was in the street in the same spot? Bad news.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • MichaelSD

      Reminds me of the little boy who cried wolf.....

      September 9, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
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