Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 10th, 2010 at 9:14 am
A non-profit organization in British Columbia that works to reduce preventable injuries has gotten a lot of attention (if all the emails and Tweets to me about it are any indication) for a new traffic safety campaign. The Community Against Preventable Injuries is placing 3D chalk drawing illusions of children in the road to raise awareness of speeding in school zones.
The drawings are an optical illusion made to startle people into thinking there might be an actual child chasing after a ball. A road sign adjacent to the drawing states, "You're probably not expecting a child to run into traffic."
Here's a video of what it looks like if you were driving down the street:
Young children are especially vulnerable to motor vehicle traffic because their depth perception and judgment is not yet fully developed. Many states, including Oregon, have special speed limit provisions around schools and stepped up enforcement to protect kids. It's clear this is an issue that needs innovative solutions; but is this a good one?
While it catches the eye, many of the comments I've read worry that after the first time rolling through, people will simply ignore it. Others have criticized the drawings because it may cause people to swerve and end up in a crash where real humans (not chalk drawings) are hurt. The folks at Preventable.ca counter those concerns by saying they will analyze and monitor traffic behavior around the drawings.
Since Portland is also a place that takes traffic safety around schools seriously, and we've got our share of creative, grass-roots activists that I could imagine getting inspired by a campaign like this, I'm curious what all of you think. Is this a good or bad idea?