The fire service is unleashing the latest cutting edge technology to curb road deaths in South Yorkshire, by harnessing virtual reality to switch young drivers on to common dangers.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has funded ten virtual reality headsets which will be coupled with hard hitting 360 degree videos to give road users a dramatic first-hand insight of what it’s like to be at the centre of a devastating fatal collision.
Fire service safety officers will work together with South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership to use the state-of-the-art kit at school visits and community events in the hope that the shocking footage makes young people think twice about their behaviour on the roads.
Users will wear a virtual reality headset and experience a full crash scene extrication from the arrival of the emergency services, while being talked through the process by a paramedic.
Steve Helps, head of prevention and protection, said: “We are always looking to use the latest technology to help our work to make people safer. Virtual reality offers us a unique ability to put members of the public at the heart of dramatic situations, which we hope they will never have to go through for real. By giving people a hard-hitting, realistic experience, we think we can change people’s behaviour and save lives.”
Joanne Wehrle, Safer Roads Manager at South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership, said: “Young people are over represented in our casualty statistics and are more likely to be involved in a road traffic collision due to their inexperience and their attitudes towards risk. The Safer Roads Partnership delivers a number of interventions for young drivers and car users to raise awareness of the dangers and challenge attitudes towards road safety, in a bid to encourage safer behaviours. The use of virtual reality is an exciting development which I hope will help us to engage with more young people and instil a clear road safety message, helping to save further injuries and loss of life amongst this vulnerable group of road users.”
Factors involved in road deaths commonly include inappropriate speed, using a mobile phone, not wearing a seatbelt and drink/drug driving.
The headsets won’t just be used to target young drivers- with further 360 content being developed to combat other causes of fatal collisions, such as driver fatigue.
In figures announced by the Safer Roads Partnership last month, 2016 saw 4,396 casualties arising from 3,053 collisions on the roads in South Yorkshire.
Of these, 579 people were seriously injured and 3,780 were slightly injured. Sadly, 37 people were killed.
For more road safety advice visit www.sysrp.co.uk