15 September 2010

3D Warnings for Streets

In Vancouver, Canada there is another example of placing a 3D image on the street in order to get motorists to slow down. In this case it's an image of a child picking up a ball in the middle of the street.

In a previous post we highlighted a warning symbol on a road outside a Danish school. The child in the middle of the street is taking the idea to the next level.

Good idea? Bad idea? Some criticism includes that drivers will think that all children on the streets are 3D images and just run them over once they've figured out the system. A bit far-fetched. It's fair comment that motorists on these stretches WILL figure out that the 3D kid is just 3D and not worry much about it after a couple of days.

Indeed, a test of fake 3D speed bumps in Phoenix had this result a few years back.

"Initially they were great," said the Phoenix Police traffic coordinator, Officer Terry Sills. "Until people found out what they were." According to Boingboing.net.

What about using a constantly changing series of images and placing them on the streets? The whole gimmick has legs because it's cheap to put into place. Stickers are cheaper than speed bumps. So keep switching the stickers.

Martin Lindstrom in his neuroscience book Buy-ology concluded that cigarette warning labels are very effective ads instead of warnings, the suggestion was that cigarette warnings should be changed regularly. So that the consumer was always kept thinking and forced to read the text instead of having a Pavlovian reaction upon seeing the same warning labels all the time.

We could also just cut to the chase and go the whole nine yards:

Or, since city councils are seemingly so unwilling to part with funding that will make serious improvements in traffic safety, why not sell adverts in the middle of the road? A holiday company or a soft drink?

Yeah, okay. Maybe not.

Of course, redesigning the roads permanently is the best option to improve traffic safety and encourage cycling and pedestrians. But yuck! That costs money!

Okay, here's another alternative from the Copenhagenize thinkthank. We have to be fair and include cyclists in such campaigns, of course. 3D texts with sensible messages for the different traffic users:

Variations could include Stop Fucking Hurting Innocent People!, Stop Fucking Polluting!, You Look Lovely on that Bicycle!, Enjoy Your Bicycle Ride! And so on.

Over the top?

Via: the always excellent How We Drive blog by Tom Vanderbilt.


PJB said...

Simple solution, once they get used to the fake speed hump, put in the real one ;-)

Green Idea Factory said...

While back I had an idea for a heads up display in cars which would show the driver their grandmother, child, dog, etc. crossing the street in front of a car being driven too fast.

Anonymous said...

Purposely creating misinformation in public places is a serious mistake.

ndru said...

What happens when someone mistakes a real child for a 3d sticker?

Neil said...

I don't think it's farfetched that motorists will adapt and not register the difference between a real child and a fake one once they are used to the program.

It's just adding more clutter to the roadway, and making it harder for drivers to pick out the real dangers from the fake ones. It's easy to tell them to get out of their cars and choose a less lethal form of transportation, but making it even harder to safely operate a motor vehicle isn't a good solution.

didrik said...

We (humans) spend a lot of energy trying to slow people driving cars: signs, stickers, public service campaigns, police enforcement. I think it's time to realize that it's just not working and focus the solution on the machine.

What if the machine has a limited acceleration profile and a lower max speed, especially off the highway. Cars could have chips that trip an engine governor once they come off the highway so that no matter how hard the driver mashes the accelerator the car will accelerate slowly and only go 25mph tops. All makes and models the same.

I know, I know. This is un-American and will lead to economic collapse. Then the commies will take over and force everyone into gay marriage.

Green Idea Factory said...

Winner of the "2010 Ignoring the Drunk Bull and Elephant Tied to Each Other in The China Shop Award".

Anonymous said...

My local grade school is doing something much more sensible this year.

Every school day, they place a bright yellow vertical sign right in the middle of the street reminding drivers of their legal obligation to yield to school children.

This seems to work mainly by making the street seem much narrower than it really is.

I like it. It's cheap, mobile, gives accurate information, and seems to work.

I'd hate the fake child. If there were one near me, I'd never drive on that street again.

kfg said...

@didrik As someone with experience in designing both cars and bicycles I've mentioned here before that at least many of the problems with cars in the urban environment could be mitigated by simply designing cars more suited to it; along the very lines you bring up.

"Car" does not necessarily imply 7 series BMW type vehicles.

In fact, it's quite possible that I'd own and be driving such a vehicle, of my own design and construction, if it were not for one simple impediment - it ain't legal. The laws most places these days DEMAND that a car be a hulking missile, as well as all the other laws (such as the one that Tesla has run afoul of) that assume, and thereby effectively demand, that cars are all of a type.

And yet such urban oriented motorcycles ARE allowed by law in most places, but as I see no particular advantage to them (cleverly combining the worst features of bicycles and motor vehicles in one inconvenient package) except to the disabled, I have no personal interest.

The most reasonable urban "car" would actually be the power assist (a hybrid that actually makes some sense) velomobile (climbing hills is their weakness); an object totally foreign to the thinking of the law.