12 mind-bending photos of optical illusion crosswalks that trick drivers into slowing down

A seemingly three-dimensional crosswalk in Germany.

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A seemingly three-dimensional crosswalk in Germany.
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CHRISTOPH SOEDER/AFP/Getty Images

Road traffic injuries remain one of the leading causes of death around the world, according to the World Health Organization.

Signs and posted speed limits can warn people to drive carefully, but some countries are taking a creative approach to making roads safer by creating crosswalks that appear three-dimensional. Clever placements of lines and shading on streets can look like raised ramps or blocks, tricking drivers into slowing down.

Read more: This trippy 3D sidewalk art will make you question reality

Here’s how optical illusion crosswalks are helping make roads around the world safer.


A painted crosswalk at St. John’s Wood High Street in Westminster looks like a ramp to oncoming drivers.

Westminster City Council instituted the 3D crosswalk for a year-long trial to see if it would help improve road safety.


The optical illusion works from either direction.

Officials hope that the 3D effect will make drivers think they’re about to go over a ramp and slow down.


In Lianyungang, Jiangsu province of China, pedestrians use a crosswalk that appears to rise off the pavement.

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A street in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province of China.
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Wang Jianmin/VCG via Getty Images

The pattern uses yellow and blue shading to create the illusion.


The “zebra crossing” appears three-dimensional.

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A 3D crosswalk in China.
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Wang Jianmin/VCG via Getty Images

Beijing and Shanghai have also begun implementing the pop-up crosswalks.


A crosswalk in Schmalkalden, Germany, looks like it’s floating in midair.

A seemingly three-dimensional crosswalk in Germany.

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A three-dimensional crosswalk in Germany.
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CHRISTOPH SOEDER/AFP/Getty Images

The crosswalk is located in the Walperloh district of central Germany.


It was created by graffiti artist Alexander Frank.

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A man walks on the three-dimensional crosswalk.
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CHRISTOPH SOEDER/AFP/Getty Images

The lines look like blocks of cement, but it’s just paint.


Isafjordur, Iceland, has a 3D crosswalk, too.

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Isafjordur, Iceland.
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Vegamálun GÍH/YouTube

The crosswalk was created by Vegamálun GÍH, a road-painting company.


The small fishing town’s narrow residential streets require driving with care.

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The 3D crosswalk in Iceland viewed from the side.
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Vegamálun GÍH/YouTube

According to Iceland Magazine, the speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour (18.6 miles per hour) was too fast and required additional measures to slow drivers down.


India was one of the first places to use the optical illusion to slow down drivers.

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A crosswalk in Dehli.
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Mint/YouTube

India’s union minister of road transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari, tweeted about the plan to use “virtual speed breakers” in 2016.


The cleverly-designed crosswalks can help reduce traffic accidents.

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A crosswalk in India.
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Ssr Krishna/YouTube

Business Insider’s Chris Weller wrote that painted 3D crosswalks are a “smart solution because they only require small amounts of money to change people’s actions in major ways.

Read more: India is using optical illusions to slow down dangerous drivers


They’ve made their way to the US, as well, thanks to two elementary school students.

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A 3D crosswalk in Medford, Massachusetts.
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CBS Boston/YouTube

Two students at Brooks Elementary School in Medford, Massachusetts, worked with the city’s bureaucracy through an organization called the Center for Citizenship to create the crosswalk.


“Books don’t teach you this,” Medford’s mayor Stephanie Burke told CBS Boston of the students’ efforts.

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A 3D crosswalk in front of a Medford elementary school.
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CBS Boston/YouTube

“Civic engagement is just something you see happen, you see success, and then you try to emulate it and do more,” she said.