The City of Greater Bendigo has selected Deakin University to build a virtual reality (VR) platform as part of a road safety program to improve young drivers’ behaviour around trucks.
Bendigo Mayor, Cr Margaret O’Rourke, said the university’s CADET VR Lab will develop 360 degree video and VR scenarios based on real-life “to educate young drivers and improve hazard awareness in their encounters with heavy vehicles”.
“This is not a training video for young drivers,” O’Rourke said in a statement.
“The aim of #GetTruckWise is to help young drivers to be aware of the very real challenges facing truck drivers every day and hopefully help them gain more empathy about sharing the road safely and not taking risks.”
Chief executive of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Sal Petroccitto, whose organisation contributed $250,000 towards the project, said young drivers in particular need to understand how to stay safe around heavy vehicles.
“Figures show that light vehicles are involved in a significant number of heavy vehicle crashes,” he said.
“Understanding important safety tips like a truck’s blind spots allowing extra distance for a heavy vehicle to break and the space needed to turn can reduce the risk for all road users.”
Associate Professor Ben Horan, leader of Deakin’s CADET VR Lab, said VR’s ability to immerse users in a situation will be used to highlight heavy vehicle operators’ perspectives.
“In our proposed roadshows, participants will wear headsets to enter virtual scenarios designed to provide a real sense of what it’s like from a truck driver’s point of view.
“We want them to experience challenges such as manoeuvring a long vehicle and dealing with blind spots.”
The CADET Lab has already shown VR’s usefulness in road safety studies, using it to analyse elderly drivers’ reaction times and responses to different road hazards.
The City added the Transport Accident Commission is supporting the campaign, and that several local freight operators have also joined the project to offer access to their vehicles and contribute their workers’ real-life experiences to the educational materials.