For the first time Transition Year students at Castleknock Community College got to experience a road safety instruction programme through the use of modern Virtual Reality (VR) technology when Fingal County Council, in partnership with AVIVA Driving School, brought the VR experience ‘Your Life – Your Choice’ to Castleknock Community College on Wednesday 29 January for students to see at first hand the impact and results of car crashes.
Targeting young drivers aged between 16 to 25, the program centres around a virtual reality headset that shows a unique seven-minute simulated experience of a road traffic accident, with the viewer being fully immersed as a front-seat passenger in the crash scenario.
The simulated crash highlights the impact of driver distraction, speed, mobile phone use and shows why wearing seat belts is so important for all passengers. Students will also witness, from the passenger seat, the immediate aftermath of a serious accident from when the first responders (ambulance, fire services and An Garda Siochana) first arrive on the scene.
Mayor of Fingal, Cllr. Eoghan O’Brien, said: ” Our objective with the ‘Your Life – Your Choice’ program is to better educate young people on the dangers of speed, distractions and using mobile phones whilst driving. The VR headsets are a tremendous example of how technology can be used innovatively in helping to change the drivers’ behaviour on our roads.
I want to commend the FCC Road Safety Section for bringing forward this initiative. Using newer technology to spread the road safety message demonstrates a fresh approach to raising awareness, particularly among our younger people.”
New research on attitudes to motor safety by Aviva Ireland, has shown that 1 in 2 (45%) 18-24-year olds have felt unsafe travelling as a passenger in a car on more than one occasion, with 5% of the same age group feeling unsafe frequently. A total of 148 people died on Irish roads in 2019 including 5 on Fingal roads, an increase from 3 in 2018, and 19 on Dublin region roads, an increase from 14 in 2018.
AnnMarie Farrelly, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, added: ” Alongside An Garda Siochana, this campaign provides a valuable opportunity to demonstrate to young drivers, through the use of new technology, the dangers that they face on the road and to drive home the message and importance of road safety awareness hopefully further reducing the number of serious/fatal collisions on our roads.”
Mike Kavanagh, Manager, AVIVA Driving School said: “We hope that in using virtual reality technology, students will be more inclined to engage with the campaign and will better learn the important road safety messages that are inherent in the simulated crash. Whilst the simulated crash is stark and the experience may not be a comfortable one for the students, we would hope that it will engrain in them the important messages around road safety and help protect them and other road users. Were we to save one life as a result of this initiative, then it will have been a very worthwhile sponsorship”.
Over the coming months, the ‘Your Life – Your Choice’ VR experience will be rolled out to Transition Year Students across Fingal and Road Safety Officers from Fingal County Council will also be visiting the schools with the program.