Watch Out! 3-D Road Image of Little Girl in the Street Meant to Surprise Drivers Into Slowing Down

There are mixed opinions on "creepy" image of 3-D girl chasing a ball.

ByABC News
September 8, 2010, 12:21 PM

Sept. 9, 2010— -- A child darting out into the street would make any lead-footed driver slow down, but an innovative speed bump that creates a 3-D version of a little girl chasing a ball is being criticized as creating danger instead of preventing it.

The image of the phantom girl has been put onto a busy road near a West Vancouver, B.C., elementary school. It has been deemed "creepy" and "scary" by some bloggers and Internet posters and downright dangerous by a traffic expert, but a spokesman for the organization that designed speed bump stands by the effect.

"It's not meant to shock and alarm the driver," said David Dunne, director of Road Safety Strategy for the British Columbia Automobile Association. "It's meant to get the driver's attention."

Painted using 3-D technology and then adhered to the pavement, the girl begins to appear to the driver as the vehicle approaches and then fades back into the road way as the car goes over it. It was placed outside the city's Ecole Pauline Johnson school.

"The sweet spot is about 50 feet to about 10 feet of the image," Dunne said. "It certainly gets across the point that kids can come out of nowhere or appear out of nowhere."

While the idea is inventive, it has had its share of critics.

"I think it's awful. I think it's dangerous," said Sam Schwartz, former New York City traffic commissioner who is now president of Sam Schwartz Engineering. "I think drivers are always scanning and suddenly they see this image up, they may very well panic."

Schwartz predicted some serious and potentially fatal consequences if the image catches drivers off-guard, causing them to veer off the road or stop suddenly in traffic.

"This is something that should be on a test track or on a video game," he said. "It shouldn't be on the street."

Internet commenters seem to agree.

"Great, now people will learn to ignore children running in the middle of the road thinking they're just speed bumps," one commenter wrote in to a Discover magazine blog.

Added another, "Playing with people's reactions while they're sitting in a 2,500-pound moving projectile of steel and glass isn't very wise."