Driven to Distraction

Following a recent European Commission report which revealed more than 3,600 young people are killed in accidents on Europe’s roads every year; Ford has joined forces with Google and virtual reality studio Happy Finish to launch a new app that highlights the potentially fatal consequences of driving while distracted.

Targeting younger drivers, who are particularly prone to distraction from mobile phones due to the increasing use of social media, selfies and texts; the virtual reality app ‘Ford Reality Check’ casts the user as a driver picking up friends, who is then faced with several distractions in the form of phone calls, text messages and talkative passengers, which are considered some of the most common distractions faced by younger drivers.

The app tracks the amount of time the driver takes their eyes off the road, and displays the total at the end.

The creator of the app, which will be demonstrated at the Ford Driving Skills for Life events later this month, are hoping that the simulated final fatal outcome of the virtual experience will educate young drivers and encourage them to develop safer driving practices.

Encouragingly, initial tests have revealed that 90% of the app users have said they would change their driving behaviour after taking part in the experience. Steve Paler from Google said: “The powerful creative collaboration between Ford, their agency partners and Google (Zoo) has given rise to a meaningful educational VR project that has the potential to save many young drivers’ lives.”

Daniel Cheetham from Happy Finish adds: “With Ford Reality Check we have created a safe environment in which to fail – and to learn.”

The immersive VR experience, is an ideal medium in which to engage the target age group, although it is thought that all drivers would benefit from the experience.

Of course, it is not just mobile phones that cause driver distractions. In 2015, road safety charity Brake reported that out of 11,000 drivers observed in a study in St Albans, 1 in 6 were found to be engaged in a distracting activity, such as talking on the phone or to a passenger, or smoking.

We’ve pulled together this list of other common distractions which all drivers should be aware of, and should avoid wherever possible:

  • Smoking – lighting, smoking or putting out a cigarette while driving can be a major distraction. Have your cigarette before or after your journey, or pull over somewhere safe.
  • Eating & Drinking – be aware that taking your eyes off the road to reach for food or drink could prove dangerous when driving at high speeds.
  • Sat Nav devices – trying to operate a Sat Nav while in motion can increase the risk of an accident. Always set your route before heading off on your journey.
  • Music – the louder the volume of music playing, the more of a distraction it can be as you become less aware of hazards around you – so keep it at a reasonable level.
  • Familiarity – driving on a ‘usual’ route can cause decreased attention as the driver feels comfortable with the route. It is important to avoid complacency and always be aware of potential hazards around you.
  • Sitting comfortably – fiddling with seatbelts, seat position or mirrors while driving can cause you to take your eyes off the road, so make sure everything is adjusted comfortably before you start your journey.
  • Fatigue – feeling tired while driving can contribute to a wandering mind and lack of concentration. Don’t head off on a long journey if you are tired, but if this cannot be avoided, make sure you stop for a break and ideally a strong coffee every two hours.

Ford Reality Check will be demonstrated at the Ford Driving Skills for Life events on 17-19 November 2017 at the ExCeL, London and the app is expected to be made available from Google App Store at a later date.

Sources:

Sourced from www.brake.org.uk. (2016). Driver distractions. Available: http://www.brake.org.uk/rsw/15-facts-a-resources/facts/1131-distractionfacts. Last accessed 06/11/2017.

Sourced from https://media.ford.com. (2017). FORD AND GOOGLE PARTNER ON VIRTUAL REALITY APP TO SHOW HOW FOMO CAN PUT YOUNG DRIVERS AT RISK. Available: https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/feu/en/news/2017/10/06/ford-and-google-partner-on-virtual-reality-app-to-show-how-fomo-.html. Last accessed 06/11/2017.

Sourced from https://media.ford.com. (2017). NEW VIRTUAL REALITY APP HIGHLIGHTS DISTRACTION RISK BY TAKING YOUNG DRIVERS ON CRASH COURSE THAT ENDS WITH DATE IN COURT. Available: https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/feu/en/news/2017/10/06/new-virtual-reality-app-highlights-distraction-risk-by-taking-yo.html. Last accessed 06/11/2017.

Sourced from www.rospa.com. (2017). Driver distraction. Available: https://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/drivers/distraction/. Last accessed 06/11/2017.

Sourced from www.safestart.com. (2016). Top 10 Causes of Distracted Driving—and What They All Have in Common. Available: https://safestart.com/news/top-10-causes-distracted-driving-and-what-they-all-have-common. Last accessed 06/11/2017.

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