Officials in West Vancouver, Canada, apparently aren't satisfied with the driver-slowing properties of traditional speed bumps. On Tuesday, the town unveiled a new way to persuade motorists to ease off the gas pedal in the vicinity of the École Pauline Johnson Elementary School: a 2-D image of a child playing, creating the illusion that the approaching driver will soon blast into a child.
According to Discover magazine, the pavement painting appears to rise up as the driver gets closer to it, reaching full 3-D realism at around 100 feet: "Its designers created the image to give drivers who travel at the street's recommended 18 miles per hour (30 km per hour) enough time to stop before hitting Pavement Patty -- acknowledging the spectacle before they continue to safely roll over her."
You have to wonder if the designers of the "speed bump of the future" considered that drivers might become conditioned to disregard Pavement Patty and her imaginary cohorts, creating something similar to a "boy who cried wolf" effect. Couldn't such conditioning reduce drivers' caution if a real child should cross their path?
Asked whether confusing and/or tricking drivers with such images might create such unintended hazards, David Dunne of the British Columbia Automobile Association Traffic Safety Foundation said that pedestrians need to be just as alert as drivers.
"People tune out. It takes an attitude shift for people to change," Dunne said. "Pedestrians need an attitude shift too. They have to realize that just because they are in a crosswalk doesn't mean they are safe. In fact, most get hit while using crosswalks."
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As for drivers who become can't process optical illusions, Dunne argued that they have no business on the road in the first place.
"It's a static image," he said. "If a driver can't respond to this appropriately, that person shouldn't be driving, and that's a whole different problem."
(Image via PhysOrg.com)
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