When That Child in the Street Is an Optical Illusion
Let’s say you live or work in an area where there are a lot of vulnerable pedestrians – kids, maybe – and a lot of cars as well, and that the cars habitually drive too fast for your taste.
What do you do?
Maybe you put up some warning signs, or speed bumps, or try to get the police to strictly enforce the speed limit.
Or you could try this:
According to the Star, this is a “heat-plastered decal” installed on a street near an elementary school in West Vancouver. For oncoming drivers, it creates an optical illusion that there’s a little girl chasing a big pink ball in the middle of the street:
The decal on the road appears to drivers as they approach the image from 100 feet away, the sweet spot is between 10 and 50 feet away when the girl appears in 3D for a brief second. … The $15,000 decal was paid for by Preventable.ca, a non-profit organization that works with the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation, WorkSafeBC and other groups aimed at preventing accidents.
The goal is obviously noble: to cut down on traffic injuries and fatalities of children. But, as with the fake speed bumps in Philadelphia, one can imagine a host of unintended consequences:
- After you’ve seen the illusion once, does it lose – or negate – its effectiveness? Do you assume that a real kid in the street is just another decal?
- A driver who sees the decal for the first time and slams on his/her brakes may increase the chances of a rear-end collision — kind of like the red-light-camera effect.
- What happens if a driver responds to the illusion by driving off the road and hits a real person, or has a heart attack?
It should be noted that the decal was removed after one week. It was an experiment, a stunt, designed to create awareness around the school. It easily did that, and beyond.
(HT: Brad Garland)