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. Jack

    And when people realize that there is a fake child in the street they will stop slowing down for it, and potentially hit real children. Did they ever hear of the boy who cried wolf?

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

    So while drivers are paying attention to the fake kid in the street they neglect to pay attention to a real one coming across the road. Drivers should not have their attention faked out. Not to mention, after some time people passing through that school zone will learn that its fake and could ignore a real child. Good concept, but should not be put into practice.

    September 9, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Andre L.

    Wow, this is SUCH a bad idea.

    September 9, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. X

    I foresee a lot of rear-end collisions near the site of the decal.

    September 9, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Czar

    Just a really bad idea, so many reasons to name, there is no good reason for this to exist, the heart is in the right place. This idea has potential to make cause a very ugly situation.

    September 9, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dipin

    Stupid idea! remember "the boy who cried 'wolf' story" anyone?

    September 9, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jim K

    This is a very bad idea. Drivers are being conditioned to IGNORE the image of a child – where it could be the real child. An image of a child doesn't belong on the pavement.

    September 9, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lilly

    This could actually cause an accident. How about an optical illusion of the words "SLOW THE F@#$ DOWN" appearing in front of drivers. Just a thought

    September 9, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dugudr

    Stupid Idea! People going to slow down only once.

    September 9, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nick

    What if there is a real girl and a driver thinks it might be an illusion!

    September 9, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tom

    This is likely to cause accidents. EXAMPLE-A driver going along is distracted by somthing looks away from the road and looks back just in time to see the illusion. He or she is likely to do one of two things. 1- slam on the breaks perhaps causing another driver to rear end him or her. 2- swerve possably hitting a car the curb or a pedestrian.
    Want to realy slow people down and safetly. On H 395 on either side of Olancha CA are speed limit signs that tell you how fast you are going. Everyone slows down when they get to those signs.

    September 10, 2010 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  12. Observer One

    Ok so here goes the main points...

    3D illusion to slow them down..
    1. They will swerve to avoid the child and have an accident..
    2. They slam on their breaks and cause another accident form.
    3. They disregard the illusions and then a real kid comes along and wham..
    4. One point that no one has mentioned yet.. They drive back around to see the illusion and have an accident because they are focused on this stupid gimmick instead of paying attention to their driving like they should be.

    Lets face it a gimmick in the middle of the friggin road is just not a bright idea. This only gets painfully stupid when you figure that our community leaders were not only presented with this idiodic idea but then gave it a green light. What were they thinking, oh yea that's right they WERE NOT thinking obviously..

    It's just bad judgement all around and someone is going to get hurt over this. Don't use gimmicks to slow speeders down in a school zone put in speed bumps it's not rocket science people...

    September 10, 2010 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert Haas

      Speedbumps for everyone, everywhere!

      September 10, 2010 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. DUM IDEAR

    NOT a good idea? How many accidents will this gimmick cause? The solution should never be worse than the problem...

    September 10, 2010 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. James

    I have to wonder why they are experimenting with this idiotic and dangerous decal when there are already proven methods for deterring and punishing speeders such as a traffic enforcement camera like the Gatso system. Takes a picture of the driver and the license plate of the speeding car and the offender receives their ticket in the mail.

    September 10, 2010 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Paz

      My thoughts exactly! Traffic enforcement cameras work great. Anyone would think twice about speeding around school zones (or anywhere else, for that matter) if you are hit with $500 ticket every time.

      September 10, 2010 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. ThaChumz

    So we try to warn drivers who ignore school zones by putting a realistic child picture in the road...what happens when they start ignoring the picture and they actually run over a child thinking it's a picture? But a 45ft painting of a kid would make Pedo bear happy for a long time

    September 10, 2010 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
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