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. Rig

    People will eventually get used to driving (even slowly) through the 3D 'playing kid' and when they really come across a kid playing on the road their instincts will tell them to slow down but allow them to go over the kid.....

    September 9, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John Weber

    This is stupidity. Aren't any one with a little bit of sense involved in this? People will stop the first three time, once they know it is fake, they will just ignore it just like online ads on a website. After that, even if a real child comes in front, they won't stop.

    Whoever comes up with these kinds of brilliant ideas should be made to stand on the road holding a sign to slow down.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. douglas

    I give them an A for originality, but a D or less for practicality and no forethought. What would you do if you saw this in the middle of the road? You'd slow, stop, realize what it is, then proceed. This would stop traffic, but eventually everyone will get used to it and not slow down. Then what happens when they come across the real thing?

    Go with what is easy...put in an undulating surface...long speed bumps. You don't have to slow down like you do for a steep/short parking lot speed bump, but you customize the bump profile to minimize speed. They work. You can also do what Motorola does in their parking lots...post eye catching speed limit signs like 18 3/4 mph.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Put a 3D picture of a Quran burning....!!!!!

    September 9, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dc

    I live near the 3D illusion and have driven by it (well, over it) as have hundreds of other people this week. The whole point was to create added awareness during the back-to-school week and get parents thinking about being safer and more alert. I say parents b/c the majority of car and kid related accidents near the school are a result of parents not paying attention and being in a rush (the local mayor and our provincial insurance corp both stated this). Plus, the 3D illusion was planned as a one week experiment and is slated to be taken down this week. And hey, there were no accidents near the school this week!

    Pretty innovative idea that was worth the trial, I think.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chad

    This is dangerous - like the boy who cried wolf. What happens when everyone figures it out that its an illusion and then a couple weeks later there is a real kid in the street. I don't know. I think its cool – but I would get bored with it and not slow down at all.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. joe

    This would totally make me drop my beer. Bad idea dude.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. iShane

    Seems people 'could' get desensitized to it and just figure it's an illusion when next time, it's a kid, sorta like crying wolf.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • IceT

      If anyone gets desensitized to any sight of a kid in the street they need to lose their liscense.

      September 9, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. IceT

    How 'bout a fake speed bump instead? No one will swerve to avoid it or mistake a real kid for a fake and it may cause them to slow down.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert Haas

      what about a REAL speed bump every once in a while? They slow people down.

      September 10, 2010 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. Almiami

    This is such a bad idea, to start with, the speed in school zone are only for a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon.
    While this is permanent and will have people slamming on the brakes all day long...

    September 9, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • IceT

      Not permanent, they lift them off and move it to another location.

      September 9, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mal

    What happens when it snows??????

    September 9, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      then you slide over her fake head.

      September 9, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Simi

    About the traffic light that turns red if you are driving too fast.. Well they have that in California. Where we used to live we had exactly that. There are many simple ways to implement that.

    September 9, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Russian

    Why do they do this unless they want people to crash

    September 9, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cinders

    mike: you said – in florida cops give tickets for speeding in school zones, thats how you fix the problem

    You can't be serious... really?? You think Florida cops are the only ones to give tickets for speeding through school zones and your problem is fixed? Wake up or stop putting stuff up your nose... Those tickets don't fix the problem othewise there wouldn't be a problem. People speed through school zones and playground zones every single day in their rush to get nowhere with absolute disregard for those zones. Since the world doesn't look like it's going to slow down to smell the roses any time soon I think this is a great idea. Or better yet... ban those @#$%& cell phones while driving, that would help too. I bet the accident rate has gone way up since those lovely devices were introduced to our world.

    September 9, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Keith

    This is awesome. That is until someone swerves to avoid the "girl" and is injured badly. There's not a lawyer in the world that couldn't win that suit. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Someone is asking for trouble.

    September 9, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
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