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3D crosswalk in Iceland helps slow down speeding motorists (visir.is)
365 points by lando2319 on Sept 30, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 160 comments

There is an analogy here to the slippery-slope of attention-getting ads on the Internet. Once upon a time an ad was just a static (not even animated) banner of a certain size and shape. 468x60 was one of the earliest, IIRC. Advertisers invented new formats ("skyscrapers", "xl-leaderboards", "300x250", and so on), and also they got animated, and then they started expanding outside their areas, and so on; each new ad temporarily performed literally dozens of times better than the previous due to shock value.

A year or two after a new, more intrusive format became ubiquitous, its performance would fall back to the old format's, and, worse, the old format would fall even further because it was too subtle. So in the long run, the money would stay the same, but the pages got uglier, formats got crazier. The game theory is clear: everyone is incentivized to upgrade to the new formats, but once there, no one is better off (neither the publishers nor advertisers), and the readers themselves are far worse off.

We're seeing this now with traffic signals: if every crosswalk in the world is replaced with this 3D version, we'll see a temporary boost in safety, but in the long run it may return to normal and in my opinion, our world will be uglier. I don't like our public spaces covered in optical illusions.

In my area I've started to see red lights that are so bright you are temporarily blinded at night if you look at them. And they've even begun attaching strobing white LED's to the center of some of them. I would guess these perform great in short-term studies. Just like flash ads with games in them.

> but in the long run it may return to normal and in my opinion, our world will be uglier.

Not just uglier, but less safe in my opinion. If people have returned to their normal driving habits (speeding over these 3d illusions) it means that at some level, they have reprogrammed their brains to ignore some 3d-like obstacles, because they may be fake. It works in case of the illusion, but I wonder if it would eventually impede their reaction time to other real, but similarly appearing obstacles.

Totally agree. This strikes me as a reckless strategy. The transportation authorities are quite literally training people to ignore their eyes when they see obstacles.

You could argue that drivers should treat a crosswalk the same as a real obstacle insofar as they should slow down and carefully assess the situation before continuing to drive, but that sounds like every other idealistic, prescriptive (rather than descriptive) attempt at policy-making. The people who will treat crosswalks with care and attention were probably doing so already, and I suspect that the people who were not previously paying attention to crosswalks will quickly return to their old behavior.

The failure modes also strike me as worse. If someone is already not paying attention, and they suddenly notice what looks like an object right in their path, they might reflexively veer away from it and into a pedestrian. I can think of other such scenarios.

I just don't understand how this idea wasn't immediately and definitively struck down as soon as it was proposed.

> A year or two after a new, more intrusive format became ubiquitous, its performance would fall back to the old format's

When Sweden changed driving side, that is exactly what happened.

"The relatively smooth changeover saw a reduction in the number of accidents. On the day of the change, only 157 minor accidents were reported, of which only 32 involved personal injuries, with only a handful serious. On the Monday following Dagen H, there were 125 reported traffic accidents, compared to a range of 130 to 198 for previous Mondays, none of them fatal. Experts suggested that changing to driving on the right reduced accidents while overtaking, as people already drove left-hand drive vehicles, thereby having a better view of the road ahead; additionally, the change made a marked surge in perceived risk that exceeded the target level and thus was followed by very cautious behavior that caused a major decrease in road fatalities. Indeed, fatal car-to-car and car-to-pedestrian accidents dropped sharply as a result, and the number of motor insurance claims went down by 40%.

These initial improvements did not last, however. The number of motor insurance claims returned to 'normal' over the next six weeks and, by 1969, the accident rates were back to the levels seen before the change." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagen_H

This illustrates that if drivers feel less safe then they drive more safely and pay attention more.

It is one of motivations for removing all signage so drivers feel less safe permamently.



One only has to look at huge crowded Asian cities, where signage is present but effectively ignored, to see that removing signage doesn't really help. The accident rates are just as high if not more.


Certainly there's plenty of places I've been a passenger in Asia and India where I would never try to drive -- but I think you're conflating 'remove signage' with 'keep signage (but assume all of it is ignored by everyone, all the time)'.

Keep in mind that's traffic death, not accidents. Accidents are dramatic for everyone who's involved, and that is quite a lot of people: first and foremost the victim (with which exact damage? Anything permanent? Not taken into account by these statistics). Also, the suspect, the insurance company, innocent bystanders who are held up and need to be rerouted, and ultimately the taxpayer.

This list is interesting bu difficult to interpret as cultural context is completely different.

Most of the countries with huge crowded cities where road rules are basically ignored also have a huge amount of people scrapping by and who could just disappear the next day for any other reason (hygiene issues, hunger, criminality, social status)

Looking at the list of countries with 15+ deaths by 100 000 people, IMO the price of a random single life is perceived as way lower than in Switzerland for instance. People in that context won’t de driving the same way as they would in a different country, or their government wouldn’t let people ignore circulations rules in the first place.

It can't just be poor, it must be deliberately misleading signage, "smart", dynamically adaptive, evolving. And more than just signs: a large system of automated aerial observation drones, satellites, the whole sky. All networked together. The branding is simple though, just call it NetSky, or SkyNet.

I think that removing all signage would have a similar effect: short-term reduction in accidents, but then a rebound (or worse) once drivers adapt.

Okay, fine. Then we ramp it up by employing hundreds of clowns to hide in the bushes on the side of the road and jump out when the driver least expects it.

Hah. I say we skip the middlemen and deliver electric shocks directly to the driver's hands through the steering wheel at random intervals.

in denmark, they tried using topless women for speed control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vb07a2YGDKM

Replace all the signs once the rebound begins, and you’ll re-befuddle everyone. Take the signs back down once that rebound hits, and repeat.

This actually holds for roads. Large wide roads are driven at higher speeds and more fatal for pedestrians. The technique now is to make the road narrow enough to cause traffic to slow down.

That seems similar to the economics concept of Sharpe ratio (Return divide by Risk). Behaviours will change till the time all opportunities in life offer equal risk-adjusted return.

The solution is simple: change driving sides every 10 years.

And when people get used to that, start each week with a new drive side bit polled from a cryptographically sound RNG. If that still isn't enough: quantum uncertainty, everybody does not know wether or not they are on the right side until they meet oncoming traffic.

Every 6 weeks

On a route through Germany that I take with some regularity there is a passage where they have been working on the road for years now. At the entrance to the roadworks are two giant flashing triangles, those work well in full sunlight but at night I have to close my eyes or look away while passing near them or I'll be totally nightblind for the next couple of kilometers which is not a very good thing to deal with while in a construction zone. Extremely silly that those things do not decrease their brightness at night.

Any large bright signs at night should ideally restrict themselves to orange/red, and be of brightness appropriate to dark-adapted eyes. Even a lot of recent traffic signals have blue–green “go” lamps which are excessively bright.

The new LED car headlights (especially seen on luxury cars) are universally awful: distracting, blinding, and wreck your eyes’ adaptation. When they show up on a tall vehicle like an SUV it’s even worse.

Same goes for most LED streetlamps. Too much blue, too bright, and directly in the field of vision for drivers and pedestrians. Most new streetlamps could have their luminance reduced by half or more and have the blue part of the spectrum entirely removed and perform better at lighting the street while using significantly less energy.

For best lighting, if planners cared about quality of life or road safety, there should be more, dimmer, lamps spaced closer together, on lower lightposts, and better shielded to the sides, so that lighting would be more even instead of having some blindingly bright areas and others lost in shadow. Of course, that would defeat part of the purpose of switching to the new lights, which was to reduce the number of lights (because they could be made brighter and therefore placed high up and far apart).

The new LED car headlights (especially seen on luxury cars) are universally awful: distracting, blinding, and wreck your eyes’ adaptation. When they show up on a tall vehicle like an SUV it’s even worse.

Headlight brightness is somewhat of a balance, between blinding oncoming traffic and not being able to see far enough ahead. Dark adaptation has its limits.

(AFAIK it's actually HID lights which make up most of the ridiculously bright headlight market.)

I'm amazed the trend in obviously too dazzling headlights has been allowed to get this far. I recently heard some industry expert defending them on the BBC saying, without a hint of irony, that they weren't brighter, they just looked brighter.

There's regulation that says they can't go above a certain threshold, so I'm inclined to believe it. Other things:

- The illumination is much more even and filling modern headlights literally cut an evenly lit polygon of light in 3d space, in old times it was much more raw and uneven. When coming into view, as your eye passes the edge of the light cone it receives the whole of it at once whereas previously the gradient was much more progressive. IOW they never go above the lumen cap, it's just even across the light port (thus indeed emits more candela) and falling like a cliff at the edge instead of decreasing towards the edge from the center.

- The light emitted is much more blue, which is harsher on the eyes, and even more so at night. As a most probably unintended effect this might help in combatting sleepiness, a sort of reverse f.lux, but too much and it's tiring and agressive. Try lighting up a 40W 2700K vs a 40W 6000K when going to the bathroom at night: the latter is harsh and blinding, even though they emit exactly the same amount of light.

Some old cars I've driven had yellow headlights and it was a pain to see anything, some semi-recent cars have 6000K and I hear aftermarket goes to 8000K which is beyond ridiculous. My car has 4200k stock HID, ballasted lights†, and I feel it's a nice, safe balance for everyone.

† ballast means their height auto-adjust so as to always be below eyesight of a crossing driver.

Having bright blue headlamps makes it harder to see into the shadows even for the car’s driver, because it causes the eyes to be less dark-adapted. Older halogen lamps work better in practice. The newer LED lamps only sound better in marketing materials, and based on junk metrics created by the industry itself.


The problem is not LEDs inherently, but the spectral power distribution and excessive intensity of the specific “white” LEDs on the market, whose light comes from a blue LED and not enough of which is absorbed by the yellow phosphor.

If cars switched to LED headlamps with a CCT of 2700 K or the like, they’d be much less objectionable.

I’ve taken to wearing orange safety glasses when I walk my dog at night and sometimes when I drive at night, so that the combination of street lamps + car headlamps doesn’t delay my sleep and cause bright-adaptation of my eyes. But I would really rather not be forced to take such dramatic and somewhat unpleasant countermeasures.

There are definitely some ridiculously bright LED lamps driving around my neighborhood, as is easy to confirm by looking at them through diffraction grating glasses.

> if every crosswalk in the world is replaced with this 3D version, we'll see a temporary boost in safety, but in the long run it may return to normal and in my opinion, our world will be uglier.

Although the illusionary crosswalks shown in the article aren’t really ugly, and even advertisements, like the cute mascots and dazzling neons of Tokyo, can have a certain beauty to them, I agree that most garish attention-seeking traffic guides, even just roads themselves [1], generally make the world uglier.

The solution may be to take humans out of driving altogether and just use signs and aids etc. that can only be seen by self-driving autoautomobiles.


[1] For a little creative exercise, try to imagine an advanced city without any roads at all. I don‘t mean just flying or even teleporting anywhere, but without the need to go anywhere (in a hurry): Robots do all the work that humans cannot do from their homes. 3D printing/molecular fabrication lets you manufacture whatever you need from home, including food. “Beds” are now sleep pods that perform medical repairs. For emergencies you call self-flying taxis. Why even have roads by then? Factories and their mines would still need to be connected cheaply, so they can keep using the asphalt, but a sufficiently advanced city would/should eliminate the need of roads for human driving.

> Why even have roads by then?

Emergency response vehicles? I imagine a flying fire engine could be quite difficult to use to fight a skyscraper fire.

Also you need wide spaces between buildings to have light at ground level.

> Also you need wide spaces between buildings to have light at ground level.

Tell that to almost anywhere in Europe: http://newworldeconomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Shin...

In Europe (and Japan) though, the places with narrow spaces between buildings usually have low buildings as well.

There is much more light in most European cities, even in the business districts with high buildings, than at least the few American cities I have been to, like Montreal or NYC, because usually where there are tall buildings, then there are also wide spaces between them, see in Paris for example: http://paris-ladefense.com/sites/default/files/styles/raison...

There are indeed places that are more in the shadow in the old city centers, but nobody likes a place that never gets sun.

> but nobody likes a place that never gets sun

I take it you have not visited beautiful Scotland.

Correction: when you have tall buildings they need to be spaced apart to avoid murkiness at street level.

In San Francisco financial district it gets dark around 4pm in summer when sunset is around 9pm. Imagine if those skyscrapers were as close together as the buildings in your picture.

Also I’m pretty sure that’s Japan. The filename says Tokyo.

> In San Francisco financial district it gets dark around 4pm in summer when sunset is around 9pm.

No it doesn't, the ambient light is sufficient to allow normal activities without requiring additional illumination until well past the summer solstice's dusk at 8:30pm.

Unless by 'dark' you mean "I couldn't see the sun when I left to get a MUNI".

> Also you need wide spaces between buildings to have light at ground level.

Yes, and much better to have that wide space provided by parks or natural land than a drab eyesore like roads, no?

Strongly agree with everything here. Just wanted to add that getting people accustomed to this has unintended consequences as well. Say you grow up in a place where this is the norm. Then you go to some place where this hasn’t caught on yet.

You’ve been trained to look out for these obvious things and therefore pay less attention in general. You are now a more dangerous driver outside of this environment and possibly even within it.

Some things are not supposed to be “easy”. When you’re driving around in a heavy metal object capable of killing or at least injuring other pepple, you are supposed to be actively paying full attention to all of your surroundings at all times.

Making things stick out like this and tricking people into freaking out a little bit trains people to pay less attention in the long run.

It’s the same thing you were saying about bigger and more obnoxious ads. I’m just making the connection explicit.

> I’m just making the connection explicit.

You're making things up. Don't use 'common sense' and arguing by analogy for this: read actual behavioural science studies on driving instead. Or simply realise the difference between attention-grabbing as a distraction to your web using & as a signal to help you avoid killing yourself or others.

My anecdotal evidence is that I don;t have any problem with this, I learned to drive three times in three wildly-different automobile environments, and I find street signs extremely useful and easier to miss. Holy crap why are UK speed limit signs the size of a paper plate.

France (and quite probably other European countries) is an excellent example of this. Zebra crossings are so common that they're almost completely ignored by drivers.

In Australia they're used relatively sparingly which makes their presence noticeable to drivers. You don't need to do anything clever, just make them sufficiently uncommon.

Belgium has as many pedestrian crossings as France, and drivers very much respect them. To the point sometimes of stopping for pedestrians that were not even trying to cross.

I think it's more a cultural thing than a problem with noticing them. I now try to pay as much attention in France as in Belgium, but in some places other cars will actually honk when you stop for a pedestrian. In some places in Asia or Eastern Europe they might even try to overtake you and actually endanger the pedestrian.

In Germany they are both common and work rather well. There's the occasional motorist who doesn't want pedestrians to have the right of way, but too have that with other things as well (making a turn, coming out of a roundabout). Overall however in this regard the rules of the road are observed well (now, speed limits, acknowledging cyclists, and overtaking on the right are different stories, of course).

Yeah, and you have to cross without one, because they are too far away. I wouldn't use Australia as an example of good driving rules. You are allowed to get away with murder in Australia if you are driving a car.

Not having a painted crosswalk is fine, it just means pedestrians will cross without a potentially misleading sense of entitlement to the road. Zebra crossings tend to be reserved for very high traffic areas, schools, etc. And they're usually very well signed, often with flashing amber lights.

As for your other comment, that's crap. Australian drivers don't get away with squat compared to England or France. Our roads are almost infuriatingly sensible to the point of tedium.

I thought brits were pretty good, but nowadays half of them don't use their indicators and the other half go 15-30 MPH over the motorway limit. (Citation: just got back from three weeks of driving in England and France.)

I can personally attest to this; I commented a short while ago about how I've been conditioned to almost completely ignore huge "Download Now!" buttons and the like. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15374013

I have wondered if anyone has studied the 'Dole light' which in the US was the additional brake light added for additional visibility and to cut down on rear end accidents.

The actual use-case for those is that you can see the brake lights coming on for not only the vehicle in front of you, but at least the one in front of that as well, since you can see through the passenger space of the car in front of you. So it's not just a psychological issue here, but an actual visibility issue.

The same thing applies to blinker lights on side-view mirrors. They are much more visible at wider angles.

Better known as the 'CHMSL' (Center High-Mounted Stop Lamps)

High-mounted brake lights had an effect for the first 5-10 years or so, while they were still a novelty. After that, the benefit disappeared.

And a source for that would be interesting, while it makes intuitive sense I'd love to see someone who tested that hypothesis rigorously.

I don't have a source for it, sorry. I was chatting to someone involved in car safety research around 10 years ago, so it'll have to be listed as 'anecdata'.

In my area, the flashing white indicates that there is a red light camera and that you will be photographed if you run the red light. The truth is that the cameras are not always there, but the effect is the same.

Similarly, road signs are getting pretty dense in the area I live and elsewhere, too. There are so many warning and notice signs on the road in my new city I've found I've missed some of the more important ones until after more than a few drive by's.

Are there any longer-term studies you could refer to?

Public spaces covered in advertising is considerably worse that optical illusions yet we have been putting up with it for years.


What really helps are speed bumps.

and roundabouts! physical obstacles always seem to work best, for some reason ;)

Helps to have a concept of scale here. This is a tiny town in the remote fjords in northern Iceland.

The speed is likely caused by tourists looking around and not paying attention, so grabbing their attention will probably work in this case.

Starting point in maps street view - zoom out and walk around the town for 5 min - you'll gain a better perspective on what's going on here: https://www.google.com/maps/@66.0739609,-23.1207479,3a,75y,3...

>The speed is likely caused by tourists looking around and not paying attention

I suspect it's Romanians, as they're really bad drivers. For example, in Romania drivers will not stop at a crosswalk to let you pass unless you stare at them for a few seconds to make eye contact, and even then it depends on their mood and how hurried they are. They're basically a menace on the roads.

Why would you suspect Romanians in particular in Iceland? Why not citizens from other European countries who as have relatively many road fatalities per capita?

I am usually most worried about Americans since many have little experience with roundabouts and they are used to turning right on red, often in practice without a full stop. This is very dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.

> Why not citizens from other European countries who as have relatively many road fatalities per capita?

When it comes to pedestrian safety, the only EU country with a record that can match Romania's is Latvia, but it has a population that's 10 times smaller.


> I am usually most worried about Americans since many have little experience with roundabouts and they are used to turning right on red

Except the crossing in the article has nothing to do with roundabouts and turning, just stopping to give way to pedestrians, which is something Romanian drivers are very bad at. I'm speaking from experience.

> When it comes to pedestrian safety, the only EU country with a record that can match Romania's is Latvia

The roads in Latvia are OK, but they have (signal-controlled) pedestrian crossings on 60 mph highways… and uncontrolled ones on 40-50 mph.

> I am usually most worried about Americans since many have little experience with roundabouts

That's no longer a very accurate statement. The US has been on a roundabout building frenzy in the last ten years, particularly in the last five. We've gone from having a thousand roundabouts ten years ago, to having more than 15,000 now.

To put it into contrast. Ten years ago the US had about 1 roundabout per 10,000 intersections. That's now down to somewhere around 1 per 600x. Germany is at 1 per 300 (France is at 1 per 45). The US will catch Germany in that roundabout ratio within the next ten years. It's a large traffic change for the US in such a short amount of time.

Thanks for the update. I didn't know that the change was happening so fast. I left the US about 10 years ago but when back in California and Minnesota during last years I barely saw any roundabouts. I don't remember seeing a single one combining active pedestrian and bike traffic. But perhaps other states are different.

Considering the majority of tourists (from my observation) in Iceland are American, I’m not really sure why you bring up Romanians.


It’s Iceland. They have a population of 300k, and get 700k tourists every year.

I don’t know why your keep bringing up Romanians apart from flat out racism.

Just flat-out racist…

I'm a Romanian citizen but sure, I must be racist. By the way, can you tell me what race Romanians are, exactly?

> By the way, can you tell me what race Romanians are, exactly?

No I can't, but surely you know?

The racism is extrapolating some behaviour to all members of a ethnic/racial group. Simply say 'some Romanian drivers…', or 'everyone in Bucharest…' or "I've seen a lot of driver who…".

Romanians aren't a race, they're barely an ethnic group. That said, if I state a fact ("Romanian driving culture is terrible"), does that make me racist? There are exceptions (there are two Romanian drivers who drive safely), but for all intents and purposes that's irelevant. And not only do I speak after having seen the exact state of Romanian driving culture (I've been rear-ended and had other near-accidents just for stopping at a crossing), but the statistics confirm what I'm saying. If you feel I'm wrong, please go to Romania and use the street crossings without stopping to check for cars, we'll talk afterwards. You might notive the sense of entitlement Romanian drivers have ("the road belongs to me, it's my right to allow or disallow a pedestrian to cross, they need to check the road before crossing, I don't have to slow down").

The best way to slow down motorists is a 3d speed bump. Not a 3d illusion of a speed bump - an actual speed bump. They have speed bumps littering the side streets in certain areas of Queens and Brooklyn. If you don't slow down, and take care, these large speed bumps will simply wreck your car - and they are much easier to install than these 3-d paintings.

I don't like speedbumps, but they work.

You're not supposed to like them; and really the only people that are inconvenienced by them are those going to fast anyway.

That's not true, my car scrapes on them at practically any speed.

People with slightly higher cars than mine scrape because they try to brake, forcing their suspension to compress, then go over the bump.

There's so much ceremony to going over a speed bump that I think plenty of people not going that fast are inconvenienced. whether that inconvience is worth the net benefit is a separate issue.

Same hear, Nissan 350Z scrapes most speed bumps even going as slow as is possible.

Also, they don't work for a lot of cars - I see lots of cars (presumably without stiff suspension) fly over the things at quite high speed. It seems that at certain high speeds, if you straddle them just right, you don't have to slow down at all.

Yup, on cars with soft suspensions you can actually get more clearance by speeding up right as you reach the speed bump, since weight transfer will push the front end of the car up

Austin has some speed bumps that I didn't notice on my first visit. It felt like the transmission had dropped out of my rental. After that I was as careful as can be to watch out for them. Austin also has a nice concept of "Don't block the box" for their intersections. In my neck of the Midwest, people always wait in the intersection, and it slows down traffic immensely. You get a green signal, then have to wait for the three cars in the intersection to move...

Some of them are pretty awful, making the whole car shudder even when you creep across slower-than-idle. (This is typically the ones that look more like a 2x4 than a hump)

Well made speed bumps are like that, but it's full of badly made ones (too narrow or too high) that make your car jump and wreck your suspension even when going at half the speed limit.

Emergency vehicles usually are usually inconvenienced by them. I also imagine they might cause problems with snow plows.

In Santa Clara, California, there are several crosswalks at intersections not controlled by a traffic light. There is an ongoing problem with cars not properly yielding to crossing pedestrians (I mean, like, ever). I almost got killed in one twice in one week. As a driver, I get rude treatment (and some near-collisions) when I stop for pedestrians. A pedestrian was killed in the one near Halford a couple of months ago.

The city solution: enforcement? Ha! No, they put in a new fancy overhead signal of a style completely unique (and, to my reading, non-compliant with the actual vehicle code) at one of these crosswalks (just west of Kiely).

The problem: when a crosser presses the call button, a pair of overhead red lights flash for a fixed cycle of time. But (in CA, anyway), a flashing red light means "stop, and proceed when safe" by law, but the signage simply says "Stop on Red".

So, people are confused as to how long to stay (the full cycle? or only as long as it occupied? or only as long as the near half is occupied? or, ?)... and almost half continue to blow through the intersection regardless.

Ambiguity in such contexts is inherently unsafe.

> In Santa Clara, California, there are several crosswalks at intersections not controlled by a traffic light.

Isn't that what a zebra crossing is for? Give pedestrians permanent right of way so they can always go and don't need a light and everyone understands that they need to yield.

On a road with high traffic speed and not enough visibility of pedestrians waiting at the side of the road, most motorists won't yield

What about a pelican crossing? Red yellow and green lights for cars like at a junction, activated by pedestrians pressing a button. Wikipedia says these only came to the US in the year 2000, which seems ridiculous.

People still blow past them, in my experience. The only real way to make roads safer for pedestrians is to remove all the cars.

Wow. Surely (and especially if there are red-light cameras) that'd be an automatic ticket, with fine and points? Same for not stopping at a zebra crossing. I can't say I've ever witnessed this sort of behaviour in the UK, except maybe as exceptional events shown on 'World's Worst Driver' clip shows on TV...

It happens to me at least once a month. It's regular enough that you have to pay attention whenever you're crossing here, even if you have the right of way and you're in the middle of the road and there are bright flashing lights indicating your presence.

I think about 25% of drivers should have their licenses pulled, because it's my experience that they don't have the judgement to operate a motor vehicle safely.

In some jurisdictions (like mine - Los Angeles), traffic cameras have been deemed illegal because the law stipulates that a person must witness the infraction, and a camera doesn't count.

They're on multilane, high-speed roads (meaning a bridge/tunnel or traffic lights are the only actually safe solutions).

In Split, Croatia they have these zebras across multiple lanes, without traffic lights or a central island (those are the ones they paint yellow now). These are the most dangerous. Even when you want to yield to a pedestrian, you have to be careful, because when you stop, the pedestrian is now obscured by your car, and other cars usually just speed by, or even go around you. The only cars in Split that actually yield to pedestrians before they step onto the road, are the ones with Zagreb plates, their driving culture is better.

About the overhead signal, why isn't it a regular traffic light? Here they just put a regular red/yellow/green traffic light that's operated by a button, no confusion.

Part of the problem with motorists not yielding at zebra crossings is because many pedestrians are not aggressive enough and behave as though the car has right of way.

What seems to work for me in most situations is to walk up to the crossing while making eye contact with the driver and not slowing down or breaking step until it is clear that if I go further I will be run over.

The driver must then decide whether or not I really mean to walk out in front of him and most don't really want to run me down so they stop.

Seems like a good way to end up dead right.

Similar to a few places in Los Angeles

Flashing red light = stop sign is in most people's driver's ed, but it seems like most people don't know how to react to it (like you, I see some people simply blow through and others wait indefinitely)

Ambiguity in such contexts is inherently unsafe.

For that reason I think, my local municipality has started putting signs with instructions on these types of traffic lights. I am thankful.

In my city a lot of new crosswalks have white stripes on a bright yellow background, a lot of them with blinking LEDs. In several places even the sign has a flashing light. Nobody will stop on an ordinary zebra crossing anymore, it doesn't even register. As for the interesting patterns to draw attention, they tried it in a different town in my country near a school, painted the stripes with different colors. Didn't last, police says not according to road regulations. And then someone brought up the famous zebra crossing in the capital near the zoo, where the pattern was realistic zebra stripes. That was promptly repainted as well.

Only tangentially related, but here's a piano-inspired crossing in Warsaw, Poland: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Europe/Poland/East/Mazowiec...

This is the original crossing near the zoo in Zagreb:


These 3d perspective drawings are much less convincing in real life than they are in images, because in real life we have depth perception and our viewpoint is constantly moving. This only looks good from that exact viewpoint.

The article shows pictures of 5 different angles on that crosswalk, and they all seem to work.

All of them are in the very middle of the road. The illusion will be broken if you aren't driving through the centre.

Stereoptics ruin the illusion. Just like a 2d vs a 3d movie

CAVE style VR suffers from the same problem if you don't want to use stereoscopic shutter glasses. You can track one user's head position and update the renderer's camera accordingly, but with multiple users you can't do that without shutter glasses.

Even with shutter glasses, I'd think there must be some limit on how many users you could have at once without irritating flickering; with 3 users and six different perspectives to render, both displays on an individual user's glasses would be opaque 2/3 of the time, and each eye would see an image for 1/6 of every unit time.

Beyond approx. 30 ft., depth perception is useless in VR

The driver's attention is not focused solely on the crosswalk, but on many different things at different times during the approach. Once the driver reaches the point where the brain is tricked most by the illusion, the attention will be on the crosswalk, with a greater probabilty. That's all what matters, these milliseconds where the brain perceives the illusion as an obstacle.

MUTCD Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The US Federal government has its MUTCD and each state has its MUTCD. All of them are generally the same. Uniformity is critical in driver behavior. The lack of uniformity on traffic controls is and will cause random behavior from drivers which likely will reduce safety. Streets are not games. The lives of people and children are in the line.

Wonder what Tesla's vision-based automatic driving makes of this.

Doesn't Tesla rely on much more than just visual imagery? I mean it can drive at night.

"I mean it can drive at night" So can I :D

Not very well without lights you don't. Although I'm not sure whether Tesla can either. :)

I predict that the bits of the illusion will deteriorate with the paint on the road, leaving a big mess :)

Sounds like it'd work until everyone knows about it. What about an actual 3D object there (speed bump)?

Because a speed bump has a different purpose, and has some negatives associated with it (which is why you don't have speedbumps at every crosswalk). This should work even when people know about it, because the real point is to draw attention to the crosswalk. Probably the people who know about it, are less likely to hit someone in the crosswalk anyway, it's the people new to the area that are most likely to be dangerous.

Now if they put these everywhere, they'd stop losing their effectiveness.

If the problem is tourists, then everyone won't know about it.

In the UK, we have "New Layout Ahead" signs everywhere. Once erected, they seem to stay in place forever and increase noise. Is there any evidence that these are beneficial?

While researching this thread, apparently those should have a date on the back that they can be removed, which is three months from when they are put up. Tell your local council!

Not just new layout signs - we seem to be bombarded with signs!

Seriously, some places there are just so many signs that you couldn't possibly take in the information they provide in time. And the majority of the information they provide isn't useful.

One of the things I hate the most are the digital signs that are springing up everywhere. These things are expensive, and >99% of the time they are distracting me with pointless messages about watching my speed, not drinking and driving, not driving while tired etc. Such a waste, and surely causing more harm than good.

Reminds me of the annoying passenger announcements on South West trains: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1205027/Passengers-f...

Is that what this sign means? [0] As an American, I couldn't figure out its meaning.

[0] https://www.flickr.com/photos/dcardani/3321935026/

This means that road priorities changed, e.g. you may no longer have the right of way at a particular intersection. It's a sign you can safely ignore when not driving there daily, since the upcoming signage is accurate anyway. It's a warning to those that have made a habit out of that route.

I feel like this points to a bigger problem. Why do drivers feel the need to drive faster than the speed limit? Why do drivers and pedestrians hate each other so much? This really feels like a band-aid on a much larger problem. And it also seems like the type of thing that will make people react even worse once they realize the situation. Like those signs that say, "Drive like your kids live here." Fuck you! I don't have any kids and I don't like kids. (Not really, but I know people who think like that.) I've seen people drive way worse between speed bumps to "show the man" that they can't be controlled. It's ridiculous, but solutions like this engender anger while maybe slightly reducing accidents (if at all). THere's a bigger problem we need to understand and all the games we're starting to play with parking between traffic and bike lanes, and cross walks that are farther back from the intersection, and other such remedies are papering over it.

The sooner we get self driving cars to control the idiots that cannot control themselves, the better. That said, they are trialling fake 3D speed bumps here in the UK and it makes me furious! I would far rather simply have have average speed cameras everywhere.

Interesting, apparently this is already a thing in India and China http://tris.com.hr/2016/05/3d-zebra-i-nacrtana-provalija-na-...

Why weren't a series of speed bumps suitable?

Plowing in Winter perhaps?

Yep, plowing and speed bumps don't mix. My workplace bought removable speed bumps. At the first snow, they maintenance folks unscrew the speed bumps from the roads / parking lot that are owned by the college. When the snow melts, they put back the speed bumps. Also, speed bumps with ice accumulations are just nasty.

Where I live they sometimes put a series of raised "vibrating" white strips before a crossing. In some places it's even only painted lines.

The concern I have with this scenario, is that I'll get conditioned to ignore this kind of stuff as a driver, and will manage to hit something real that I mistake for an optical illusion.

To have a continuous effect, this would need some persistent e-inkpaper to redraw cars, obstacles or similar stuff on the road.

Also, sorry to say it - but the speed limit is set by the common lowest denominator- meaning, a old guys reflexes, in a fully loaded lorry with the worst possible breaks must stop at the smallest acceptable visible range at clear weather.

This is a bad idea. Once it loses its effectiveness it'll leave the drivers in a worse state.

Attention should be drawn to pedestrians, not necessarily to the crosswalk itself

Article captions reference '08 Something Good - Utah Saints

Welsh lad the first time e seen a running man ->

"IT'S LIKE IT'S FLOATING ON AIR The townsfolk of Ísafjörður say they have never seen anything like it."

Am I the only one who thinks that humans might be pretty good at adjusting speed for risk?

Not to sound cruel, but having everyone slow down might not be worth the cost of all these precautions.

"Am I the only one who thinks that humans might be pretty good at adjusting speed for risk?"

You probably are, because humans are horrible at recognizing and adapting for risk.

Humans are absolutely horrible at judging risk.

For how long though? This will become normalized after some time.

I want the pattern for this. I suppose it's easy enough to make my own, but a pattern would be nice.

I live on a street where people drive too fast.

Take this picture from above, that's basically the pattern.


I wonder how well it would work in the dark.

Well, if you can’t see the road, there’s a problem in and of itself. Assuming good headlights, which I think you’d want in Iceland, and assuming modern road paints, it should work. If not, just stick a road light over it.

Yes but how well would the illusion work in headlights?

It should work, modern headlights are no joke, but I admit that I’m not sure. If you have enough light to perceive a broad range of colors it should work.

The shadows would appear wrong when lit by headlights, which might be a little bit disorienting. The shadows are rendered as if a light was high overhead.

I think the illusion would still work fine, but feel subtly "wrong" to the driver. Probably good enough to get people to slow down, though.

I mean given where you would expect the shadows of floating blocks to be when illuminated from your headlights.

> which I think you’d want in Iceland

Why Iceland more than other places?

They're in range of the polar night, and headlights are mandatory to be on at all times. It can be a dark place.

Sure, but there's night everywhere at some point, it's just longer in Iceland sometimes.

During the winter, it's about 5 hours of daylight. I recommend visiting there; it's absolutely beautiful during the sunrise/set, and you'd understand what I mean about it being a dark place.

I've been, that's why I ask. It didn't seem darker than any other place at night. It's absolutely beautiful at all times, though.

I think the key fact you’re forgetting is that when it is dark in most places it is night time, which time is famous for having the fewest people driving. By contrast in the range of the polar night you could have rush-hour during what amounts to midnight in terms of ambient light. It’s really that simple.

even better, obviously

It's all smart and clever until someone gets distracted, slams the breaks, gets rear-ended and breaks the neck.

If they are going that fast and it is that distracting to them, they are probably dangerous already.

Then the driver behind was following too closely, which has little to do with an optical illusion on the road.

The speed limit is 18mph. No neck breaking can happen at that speed.

That's faster than you are moving when you are executed by hanging (about 17 mph for long drop, 13 mph for standard drop), so I would not dismiss the possibility out of hand.

Ah... but it's your whole body weight on your neck at that speed that breaks it. Unless you've managed to seriously misplace your seatbelt, I don't think you can achieve the same result.

I have seen something similar but not the same around Japan for years. A good idea.

This is why self-driving cars need lidar (and maybe radar) as well as cameras.

That's awesome! :D

Palo Alto should try this on El Camino Real. ;)

Does it actually work?

also eye-patch resilient :)

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