The 3-D Zebra Crossings That Are Making India's Roads Safer For Pedestrians

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3-D Zebra crossings create a clever illusion ( Photo Credit: Saumya Pandya Thakkar/ Shakuntala Pandya via Wired)

Zebra crossings — the alternating dark and light stripes on the road surface — are meant to alert drivers that pedestrians may be trying to get across. Unfortunately, they are not very effective. A 1998 study done by the Department of Traffic Planning and Engineering at Sweden’s Lund University, revealed that three out of four drivers maintained the same speed or even accelerated as they were approaching a crossing. Even worse? Only 5% stopped even when they saw someone trying to get across. Now a mother-daughter team in Ahmedabad, India have devised a clever way to get drivers to pay more attention — A zebra crossing with an optical illusion.

Artists Saumya Pandya Thakkar and Shakuntala Pandya were commissioned to paint the crosswalks by IL&FS, an Indian company that manages the highways in Ahmedabad. The corporation was looking for an innovative solution to help the city’s residents to cross the busy accident-prone roads safely. Thakkar and Pandya, who had previously seen images of 3-dimensional zebra crossings that gave drivers the illusion of logs of wood on the streets in Taizhou, China, decided to test if a similar tactic would work in India.

Saumya Pandya Thakkar and Shakuntala Pandya beside their painting (Photo Credit: Fastcoexist)

Sure enough, in the six months that the 3-D crosswalks have been painted across four of the city’s most dangerous highways, there have been no accidents reported! The artists say that while it may appear that the zebra-crossing could cause the drivers to brake suddenly and endanger the vehicles behind, such is not the case. Because of the way the human eye works, the illusion is only visible from a distance. As they get closer, the painting looks just like any other conventional zebra crossing. But since the driver is driving slower, he/she is more likely to stop. The creators hope that their smart design will become increasingly common throughout India and perhaps even the world.


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Reading Comprehension (6 questions)

  1. What is the purpose of zebra crossings?
  2. What evidence provided in the article suggests that current zebra crossings are not very effective at preventing accidents?

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Do you think that once the surprise element of the 3-D zebra crossings...

Vocabulary in Context

“Now a mother-daughter team in Ahmedabad, India have devised a clever way to get drivers to pay more attention — A zebra crossing with an optical illusion.”


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  • sma4tspy Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 5:44 am
    this is explained i never know that
    • mastervenessa
      mastervenessaTuesday, June 6, 2017 at 2:31 am
      New Zealand sure does need this!
      • mastervenessa
        mastervenessaTuesday, June 6, 2017 at 1:44 am
        This would be great in New Zealand!!!!!!
        • amazing kidWednesday, May 24, 2017 at 6:21 am
          this is so cool
          • yoooooSaturday, May 13, 2017 at 9:18 am
            yes we should
            • mnijFriday, May 5, 2017 at 8:43 am
              we could use these in america
              • josahThursday, April 6, 2017 at 10:29 pm
                this is awesome
                • Australian boy Sunday, March 26, 2017 at 3:42 pm
                  We need them in Australia
                  • s679563
                    s679563Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 9:43 am
                    cool i think we need those around here
                    • xXGETALIFEXxTuesday, March 7, 2017 at 11:40 am
                      this is pretty dang cool stuff. Some things in hear I could not understand because the subtitles were a little off (they did not say what the people actually said).

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