Optical Illusion Scare for Vancouver Drivers
If you are a sports fan, you noticed by now that on the sides of a football field, for instance, commercials for one product or another are drawn is such a way that they give the illusion of depth and volume.
Such an image, only that on the pavement, was chosen by the Vancouver authorities, who decorated the 22nd Street in the city, near the Ecole Pauline Johnson Elementary School with a 3D image of a girl running amok after a ball or something.
The effect of the image for the eyes of the motorists are supposed to be immediate. All of them will be forced to reduce the speed of their car, as the illusion is not distinguishable as an illusion from afar.
According to Brent Dozzi, the city's manager of roads and transportation, the image will be visible from a distance which would allow the drivers to brake comfortably and in due time, and will only reveal itself as what it is when the driver approaches.
‘We need to expect the unexpected because anything could happen, whether it is a 3D image on the road ... or whether it’s a live child or a dog running in front of the car, these are all things that we have to be able to control for in a vehicle,” David Dunne from the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation was quoted as saying by theglobeandmail.com.
“You’ll see this image start to rise off the pavement and it will look like a little child is crossing the street. As you get closer to the image, the image recedes into the pavement,” he added.
The image cost the authorities $14,000 to run and will be in place for the next week. Unfortunately, the manner in which the technology behind the image works has not been detailed.
comments written so far
From the Ontario Traffic Manual Book 8 - Warning Signs:
?Warning signs are intended to provide advance notice to road users about unexpected and potentially dangerous conditions on or near the road. The conditions to which warning signs apply typically require that road users exercise caution, and may require that drivers slow down, in order to travel safely in the presence of a hazard.
In order to retain the public credibility of all traffic control devices, consistency in application is necessary. Insufficient warning signing may leave road users unprepared for encountering hazards, while over-signing or exaggerated signing may result in complacency. It is important, therefore, that warning signs accurately convey the severity of the hazard about which they are warning.?
Nowhere does it suggest that a warning sign should attempt to shock or surprise drivers into lower speeds. This sign simply adds to the "visual noise" of the roadway, distracting from real hazards.
A few scenarios immediately come to mind when a driver encounters the sign, all of which are undesirable.
1. A distracted driver observes the sign with insufficient time to slow down and engages in dangerous evasive maneuvers potentially endangering other motorists or pedestrians around him or her.
2. Drivers who have not encountered the sign slow down when they see the sign, and then speed up again (likely in an annoyed state) after they realize that it is just an illusion, and not an actual child.
3. Drivers who have already encountered the sign ignore the sign and continue to drive at their original speed, becoming accustomed to not slowing down for the image of a child on the roadway.
The fact that no 'erratic' driving behavior has been observed so far is essentially meaningless. It only takes one driver who causes some kind of a collision to create a negative impact that was not there before. The risk introduced by this pavement marking should be completely unacceptable given the virtually non-existent benefit.
This is just a publicity stunt which will have no lasting effect on driver behavior or speeds on any roads. It is well understood and substantiated by research that the only way to safely change driver speeds for the long-term is to change the perception and geometry of the roadway (e.g. streetscaping, narrowed lanes, speed bumps/humps/tables, bumpouts/chicanes, and/or additional consistent long-term enforcement, etc.).
There is nothing wrong with trying to bring public attention and education to the very real issue of motor vehicle fatalities and pedestrian safety especially as it relates to children. However, there are better ways to do it without increasing the risk to drivers on the road today.