This girl is a sticker on the road, but if you inadvertently run over her you were not paying attention to your driving. Pay more attention to the road.
Speeding through school zones is an ongoing and madening traffic issue in Toronto, Canada. Every year the police, accompanied by children stop speeders near their schools, but it seems nothing changes. Everyone agrees that speeding through a school zone in very dangerous for kids, but drivers are too self absorbed and arrogant to change their behaviour. Preventable.ca is running a small test in West Vancouver where they adhere a sticker of a child on the road. From far away the sticker looks like a little girl fetching a ball. This is to remind drivers in a school zone to pay attention to the road in order to keep kids safe. It is a small test, but well worth trying. I think preventable.ca for their effort in improving road safety for children in BC, but hope that they will also reach out to Toronto.
I often cannot believe how selfish people can become once they get into a car. This is particularly so when people speed through a school zone. The excuses of “I did not see her” are inexcusable when young lives are at stake. As far as I can see, no educational method has worked that will slow down drivers. Preventable.ca has come up with an innovative method that should be tried to determine its effectiveness. Sure there are always improvements one can make in an experiment, but I am surprised at the negativity I see on their site as well as in other newspapers.
To be clear, this is not a child on the road, only a sticker that creates an optical illusion of a child. No children were harmed in this experiment. The stickers were placed in a school zone, where they can remind errant drivers to slow down. The sticker seems lifelike from the photos, and should jar drivers out of their robotic stupor of autopilot, and therefore inattentional blindness, difficult to do but necessary if we value the safety of our children.
Negative feedback abounds, so I will attempt a rebuttal.
- Q: These illusions may surprise drivers, who will slam on the brakes, and lose concentration of their surroundings. Drivers may swerve, causing a possible crash.
A: These stickers are posted in a school zone, which is max 30kph in BC and 40kph in Ontario. Drivers should be going very slowly, paying attention to their surroundings and expecting children. If a driver is surprised by the image, they are not paying sufficient attention to their driving or they are driving much too quickly. At 40kph this image will appear slowly and it will be readily evident that this is not a real child.
- Q: These stickers will condition drivers to run over children.
A: I think you give drivers too little credit. In all cases drivers should not take any image for granted and therefore should slow down and be prepared to stop for kids, image or not. If you are traveling through a school zone at the proper speed then this will not be an issue. If desensitization becomes an issue, when the stickers wear out they should be removed. Stickers should then be placed in a different school zone.
- Q: Putting the child image further down the road near a crosswalk may lead to running the crosswalk and potentially hurting those that are crossing.
A: While this may be true, when we drive we see and deal with much environmental stimulus on a daily basis. A crosswalk and a child crossing the road nearby is a very realistic scenario and should not “overstimulate” a driver. If the driver is going at the proper speed limit, through a school zone, the driver should expect children at the crosswalk as well as trying to cross the road not at a crosswalk. In all cases the driver should be aware of their surroundings and drive safely. This will not be an issue at 40kph.
- Q: Once drivers recognize the image the benefits will be negligible.
A: This is possibly true but is also an acknowledgment that the campaign has worked. The image and their locations can be changed.
No doubt that many of the above concerns are valid if the driver is not expecting kids in the vicinity and the driver is driving at much higher rates of speed. This is not true in a school zone, where the speed limit is 40kph and kids are in the vicinity. While further study and monitoring of this experiment is required, overall I like the intent of these stickers. They have the potential to bring school zone safety into the news and educate drivers. With this campaign and rigorous police enforcement we can all hope that the safety in school zones will markedly increase.
Up close, this is the girl image. If you drive at a safe speed in a school zone there will be no problems seeing her in time.