You probably don’t think much about speed bumps until you see one coming up, forcing you to slow down and endure that telltale thump. India is the country with the grim distinction of being world leader in road accident deaths, according to Tech Insider, so they are trying to get creative with 3D painted speed bumps. The Indian government had recently removed all regular speed bumps, after discovering they can pose a serious threat to high-speed drivers.
The first speed bump on record, in New Jersey, was noted in the New York Times in 1906; researchers started assessing the risks more recently. And over 100 years from the first bump, the first illusory versions started being tested. In 2008 Philadelphia put down 3D decals as part of a punny campaign called “Drive CarePhilly.” Everyone’s first thought on these, it seems, is that they won’t have much lasting effect: Once drivers know it won’t damage their car to speed over them, they’ll stop slowing down, goes the logic. That proved true of Phoenix’s similar experiment. "Initially they were great, until people found out what they were," a Phoenix Police traffic coordinator told AZ Central in ’08.
Canada tried to find a way around those diminishing returns by using extremely creepy 3D children who look as though they’re playing in the middle of the street. “The girl’s elongated form appears to rise from the ground as cars approach, reaching 3D realism at around 100 feet, and then returning to 2D distortion once cars pass that ideal viewing distance,” Discover Magazine wrote of this effort in 2010. There hasn’t been any further reporting on the matter, so either they’re continuing to work really well or citizens were so up in arms that the government tore them up and apologized for traumatizing everyone.
The 3D speed bumps they’re experimenting with in India are more attractive, seemingly made with Instagram in mind. As Mashable writes, “In Ahmedabad for instance, a mother-daughter artist duo has painted 3D crosswalks in the first few months of 2016.” But aesthetics are surely last on their minds. The speed limit in the country where the number of cars has ballooned to 75 million from just 5 million three decades ago is 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph). And the Times of India reported that nearly 5,000 lives were lost in crashes that resulted from driving over physical speed bumps, making their illusory counterparts a much more desirable alternative.