How VR is helping drivers stay safe around trucks

The use of virtual reality is helping teach young drivers how to drive around heavy vehicles

How VR is helping drivers stay safe around trucks
The new program will help encourage driver safety around heavy vehicles

A Deakin University trial is using virtual reality (VR) to encourage empathy in young drivers regarding interactions with heavy vehicles on the roads, particularly focusing on the challenges operators face with inexperienced drivers.

The new project simulates both common and unsafe scenarios so young drivers can understand how their actions may lead to road safety issues and potential collisions with heavy vehicles.

The statement on the Deakin University program says there is concern over an increase in a lack of awareness on how to share the road with bigger heavy vehicles, as well as the education for young drivers about safety considerations needed when sharing the road with heavy vehicles.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI) is funding the project, while federal government, Linfox Logistics and the Transport Accident Commission are all also supporting the initiative.

A funding boost late last year has allowed the project to continue into its latest stage that will include an extended range of VR experiences.

Deakin University says it will also foster partnerships with educators to implement learnings from the VR experience for young drivers across Australia.

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"This project is a fantastic opportunity to continue exploring the role that virtual reality can play in supporting a deeper understanding and empathy of what it is like to drive a heavy vehicle on our roads and why it is so important for passenger vehicle to drive safely when interacting with heavy vehicles," project lead and Deakin CADET Virtual Reality Lab Professor Ben Horan says.

Linfox Group says the program focuses on a commonly heard piece of feedback around the theme of merging.

"A good example is when a motorist suddenly merges into a gap in front of the truck, leaving them with little time to stop safely," Linfox Group manager for safety, health and wellbeing Chris Wilks says.

"Quite often this forces drivers to brake suddenly and potentially take evasive action to avoid an accident."

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