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26th Nov 2019

Students to experience virtual reality car crash as part of new road safety campaign

Rudi Kinsella

Virtual Reality technology road safety

The Virtual Reality technology will give students a realistic and harrowing look at what a car crash can look like.

A new Virtual Reality (VR) technology campaign has been launched in schools across Dublin as part of an attempt to increase road safety awareness among future drivers.

Aviva launched the campaign at Trinity Comprehensive School in Ballymun on Tuesday morning, in the presence of Dublin’s Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe.

Leo Lieghio, a member of the Irish Road Victims Association, was also present at the launch to speak about the loss of his 16-year-old daughter, Marsia, who died after a hit-and-run incident in 2005.

Transition Year students from the school were given VR headsets and were placed in the passenger seat of a car that crashes into a farm truck as a result of dangerous driving.

The video appears to show one of the people who is in the backseat dying, as they go through the front window as a result of not wearing a safety belt.

In a very realistic video, you feel as though you are in a car with other young people going along a country road, while the driver is showing his phone to the passengers in the back, and not paying full attention to the road.

You then lose all visibility. The lights come back on, and the paramedics have arrived to try and salvage the situation, while others in the car are left bleeding and crying.

Speaking to JOE about the launch of the campaign at the event, Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe said that he believes the use of technology could prove to be extremely beneficial in ensuring that young people are aware of the dangers of driving recklessly.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to use technology to demonstrate to young adults the impact of poor driver behaviour. It was really shocking for me to learn that one in three people don’t wear seatbelts. I think that’s an amazing statistic given how far we’ve come in terms of road safety.

“If we can reinforce that message, if we can say to them when they’re in the car with their friends it’s okay to say ‘Look, you’re not driving safely, let me out’, to make them brave enough to say you should be driving safely.

“We’re using the technology and the partnership with Aviva to do that. Dublin City Council has taken a role in road safety here and I really commend the officials who’ve done that.”

McAuliffe described Leo Lieghio’s speech at the launch as “the most powerful contribution today,” adding: “I think that will probably make more of an impact than the VR, but it’s about using all the tools in your toolbox.”

Lieghio himself also praised the VR initiative, saying: “My beautiful daughter Marsia was the same age as many of these Transition Year students when she died, and unlike them, she never got the chance to sit her Leaving Certificate, go to her debs or study to be a midwife as she always dreamed of.

“I hope that Marsia’s story, along with this new VR technology and driver safety programme, helps students understand the weight of responsibility we have as drivers and the importance of honouring the safety of ourselves and others.”

You can see the Virtual Reality clip that was shown to the students here, although it is somewhat different without the headset on, and certain viewers may find it distressing:

Clip via Safer Young Drivers

Representatives from Dublin City Council and other County Councils will be visiting schools in Dublin and around the country with members of An Garda Siochana over the coming months.

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