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. Barrett

    Generally, good idea. This won't cause accidents that wouldn't have happened anyway. If the driver isn't paying attention enough to realize they're in a school zone, or on the road for that matter, then, well, this is the least of the problem.

    I highly doubt this will "desensitize" anyone. Only for a brief second does this look like an actual child. A real child tends to look like a real child the entire time, and typically has motion to them. So basically, this acts as another reminder of where you are.

    So, I say, good for a school zone, perhaps unfit for a highway, but I don't think that's planned.

    September 10, 2010 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. Wade Wilson

    pretty good idea initially until drivers become desensitized to them ignore them and start running over real kids in the street.

    September 10, 2010 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  3. BangingDonk

    This is going to have a "cry wolf" effect and make drivers complacent about running over children.

    September 10, 2010 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sjdsf

    I would honestly crash my car if I saw this. Even if I wasn't speeding, I would swerve and slam on my brakes.(Not onto a crosswalk or anything, but prolly into a tree). And whose fault would it be? Mine. This just sounds stupid. I'm sure half the drivers who speed through thre will swerve into some actual kids.

    September 10, 2010 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. john-michael

    All this will do is condition people to running over little girls. Drivers will begin to ignore the real little girls playing in the street, believing them to only be deceptive imagery. "The boy who cried wolf" comes to mind... Perhaps a little analytical thinking would have helped these bureaucrats think through the implications of their decisions. Oh that's right we all have "Hope" now, and we can all rest at ease knowing that we're "united" in one common goal... (rebelling against God's only son, Jesus the Christ) Bunch of Geniuses *Sarcasm* ends right here->

    September 10, 2010 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. Emareff

    So how many more people are going to say "Ever heard of the boy who cried wolf?" Apparently everyone hear has heard the story.... we get it.

    September 10, 2010 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Emareff

      Here**, whoops 🙂

      September 10, 2010 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Teabagging4Obama

      This is just like the boy who cried wolf.

      September 12, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Edward C,

    So what happens then if a driver is speeding through, sees the image, swerves off the road into a yard, and kills a kid playing in the yard? Sure, the driver would bear the majority of the responsibility, but the manufacturers of this product will have to bear some of the blame. This driver in all likelihood would have continued on without an incident. Does that make it right they are speeding? Of course not. We have speeders in my neighborhood all the time, and no one has gotten hurt. Not to say it is right, and can't happen, but this system increases the likelihood of an accident. Bad, bad idea!

    September 10, 2010 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  8. Stupid Little Man

    This is great, it will really fool those stupid drivers. So, we stupid drivers just start thinking, "Yeah, that little kid in the road is just a sign", 10 points for a fast mover, thump, splat – dead kid. What a stupid idea, People will ignore what they think are 3-D kids like they ignore other routine traffic sign threats – have you ever slowed down when you saw a "Falling Rock" sign or a deer or elk sign? No, but it does make you more attentive (I'm talkin' to you city folk).. So, now you see a kid in the road, hahaha you fooled me, next time I'll just blow through the little 3-D image – Oooops – real person, they dead, me feel stupid, but most importantly, they dead! Bad, Bad, idea. I guess in this case guerrilla marketing will have the same effect as bringing King Kong to the US, lot's of people hurt and killed (mythical but a good analogy). Stupid is, well, stupid. Guerrilla marketeers should stick to free stuff and sidewalk chalk, I don't think that's going to kill kids like this really stupid idea. I meant to say really stupid idea. You got that, right? Stupid!

    September 10, 2010 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. jbrazealle

    This is the most stupid idea I've seen in a while. It has lawsuit implications written all over it. Also, this is just one more example of how lazy tax-payer funded police departments have gotten!! Get off your a$$es and post a cop in a car at the site and write tickets!! End of story. I hope someone sues your ba!!s off.

    September 10, 2010 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. Stupid Little Man

    Edward C: What if your scenario happened and the driver was going the speed limit? Could likely happen. This is just a BAD idea,That's being too nice, it's just stupid.

    September 10, 2010 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. Stupid Little Man

    john-michael: should have read your post first, than, I would have written nothing....nice job

    September 10, 2010 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. kevin

    Am I the only one that thinks this might cause more accidents if people think uts really a kid and swerve, etc?

    September 10, 2010 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • grace

      No Kevin, I feel like you do. People who came up with this idea didn't think it through.

      September 10, 2010 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. grace

    This is not a good idea. A person driving through that same neighborhood will become use to seeing this 3D picture and when the real thing happens he will assume it's just another picture and actually hit the person. Use some common sense people!

    September 10, 2010 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  14. Canadian

    I read most of the replies on this report not one person has even mentioned, the reason West Vancouver is doing this is simply because you have all these women who have children don't really want to take care of them so they go racing through roadways like there is no one else around.
    I was living in Seattle and I lived right down the street from a school I would see women on their cells chatting or texting while driving.
    People do not take responsibility for anything they do including hitting a child while they are crossing the road.
    Children are easily excitable, but adults have no excuse for not following the law, if you read the story correctly they have warned people about what is to come.
    For all the hopeless illiterate Americans living beneath Canada maybe if you take a page out of one of our well written books then you wouldn't be focused on what may happen to the people and their valuable cars and think about the laws and the young lives at risk.

    September 10, 2010 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
    • kv

      what? I'm Canadian too and you don't make any sense

      September 11, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Josh

    It may work for initial days, but when drivers realise ita an illusion it will not work and will be very dangerous when a real kid is on the road and the driver does not brake thinking its and illusion....high tech dosent work always

    September 10, 2010 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
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