CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Warning: Hologram Ahead

It seems that James Cameron doesn’t have a lock on innovative 3-D imagery: As the Globe and Mail reports:

Motorists travelling on 22nd Street in West Vancouver will be confronted with a 3D image of a little girl chasing a ball in the street starting next Tuesday. The girl will be an optical illusion, but the scenario is very real, according to David Dunne of the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation.

I’m all for illusion-based traffic calming techniques that create the sensation that drivers are driving faster than they really are — and I realize there is no greater challenge in traffic engineering than managing driver speed — but I would have reservations about putting an imaginary obstacle in the middle of the road (perhaps putting the child on the side of the road would be merely enough?). For one, it may, however unlikely, provoke the driver into taking evasive action, thus getting into real trouble. For another, the presence of false hazards may reduce our vigilance to real hazards. And one wonders if this would open the door to 3-D billboards and other projections.

But what do readers think?

(horn honk to David Levinson)

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 at 7:32 am and is filed under Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

15 Responses to “Warning: Hologram Ahead”

  1. Brent Says:

    I think you’re spot on about false hazards reducing vigilance, the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” problem. Wouldn’t the effort be better spent on designing the street to slow drivers?

  2. Ryan Cousineau Says:

    Since I live in the area, I need an opinion: would it be wrong, very wrong, or hilarious to drive through this hologram with unwitting passengers aboard?

  3. Ryan Cousineau Says:

    Oh, one thing that I haven’t seen well-explained in other articles was the technology at hand. While it’s described as a “hologram,” the Globe & Mail article’s description of the actual effect sounds like it’s a forced-perspective trompe a l’oeil painted onto the roadway, much like this Julian Beever work.

  4. Graeme Says:

    I spent some time in Maryland, USA this summer. In Silverspring, there were permanent speed/radar cameras installed in advance of school zones (on arterials) in at least two locations. They were overtly obvious and there were even painted, transverse lines on the lanes at the location where the photo would be taken if you were speeding. EVERYONE slowed down at those zones and maintained a slower speed through the school area.

  5. Robyn Says:

    This is a horrible trick to play on drivers. Why not put up one of those speed detector signs, “Your speed is XX MPH”. I have found that I do slow down if I see I am over.

  6. Traci Says:

    That’s just crazy!! Someone might seriously have a heart attack when one of those things pops up suddenly. Although I do have to chuckle a bit at the thought of Ryan’s idea of just driving through one with passengers aboard – they would be completely aghast for sure!

  7. Nick Says:

    This is just another case of over-engineering: one invention (like fast cars that kill) makes another invention (like airbags) necessary. It’s in the same bag as the pedestrian flags found in Port Angeles (among other cities): were the street in front of the ferry terminal not built like a highway in the first place, they wouldn’t need to install special flags at cross walks for people to carry to get across the road safely.

    Here’s a better over-engineered solution: a speed trap activated by cars that travel above the speed limit that fires a paintball at your car from a cannon mounted at the side of the road. Now driver’s would have a direct way of measuring the cost of their speeding (car washes) rather than the indirect cost of human life and community destruction. An added bonus would be that every else would know, at least until the car were washed, that the occupant is a bad driver (shame).

    Facetious jokes aside, I agree with Brent that designing the road to make slower driving necessary would be wiser.

  8. Scott Says:

    TERRIBLE idea. I wonder how long it will take for people to just start running over everything: “Oh, look. There’s another one of those ‘kid chasing a ball in the road’ holograms…” **SPLAT**

  9. Edward Says:

    I agree with the other posters. It is not a good idea. Motorists will soon get used to it and ignore it. Change the layout of the street so that cars have to slow down, eg: chicanes (with bike paths on the outside of them) and dead-ends.

  10. Jack Says:

    Exactly what I was thinking Scott. Relative to infrastructure changes, this idea is cheaper but raises other risks with misinformation.

  11. Susan Says:

    I was discussing this yesterday, and came up with a much better idea than a holographic child – a holographic speed bump! Makes drivers slow down, but no maintenance issues with plough trucks. :)

  12. Scott Says:

    My favorite idea is one that I heard about a while ago: retractable speed bumps.

    A radar device measures the speed of approaching vehicles and raises the speed bump out of the road if they are speeding. The bump stays retracted in the road for vehicles traveling within the speed limit.

  13. DoctorJay Says:

    Looks pretty dumb to me. It’s a sticker on the road and there’s now a video posted showing the approach. Just what we need; fake hazards that distract you from the real hazards of the immediate environment.

    http://www.boingboing.net/2010/09/09/child-in-the-road-il.html

  14. Michele Says:

    I think this is a terrible idea. So now we will be running over holograms during a yellow light ! and what about those who have had the unfortunate reality of hitting a child on the road, this will truly trigger PTSD.

  15. Mikael Colville-Andersen Says:

    If there were a series of stickers that were regularly switched, using a variety of images to keep people guessing, it might be more effective. But road design is the better, more permanent solution.

    A similar, albeit smaller, 3D image is used near a Danish school: http://nyhederne.tv2.dk/video/index/id/32744456/

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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