Roosevelt High Students learn about Distracted Driving through Virtual Reality Technology

Vision Zero is Seattle’s effort to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030, through smarter street design, enforcement, and education. Distracted-related crashes have increased nearly 300% over the past 3 years in Seattle (Crashes with inattention as a contributing factor: 2011 – 950, 2012 – 1190, 2013 – 2576, 2014 – 3195).

SDOT partnered with ATT and Seattle Public Schools this past week at Roosevelt High School to share lessons about road safety during the “It Can Wait” driving safety demonstration that included a virtual reality driving simulator.

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Students took time to checkout and participate in the demonstration. A teacher even stopped by and offered up student participants, “If you don’t have any kids using it right now, my classroom is right there and the kids would love to do this.”

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The demonstration uses virtual reality technology to simulate a driver who is distracted by texts on their cell phone. Students participants would first answer a few questions about how often they text and drive and how dangerous they think it is. Then they sit in the simulator car, put on the headset and headphones, and enter an impressively immersive 3D computer-generated world. For the next few minutes they witness distracted driving from the perspective of the driver with a complete 360o view of their surroundings.

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Students were  asked how they felt after the simulation that included a simulated crash. “I don’t drive yet, but I never will text and drive; that was intense!”

The “It can Wait” campaign started in 2010 as an effort to reduce texting while driving. Texting is just one dangerous action people do while driving: texting, email, and social media top the list alongside taking photos and selfies, shooting videos, and video chatting. Distracted driving is not a rare occurrence either – ATT sponsored research estimates that 70% of drivers engage in smartphone activities while behind the wheel.

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Students at Roosevelt High School were each given a Google Cardboard headset to take home and encouraged to share the experience with their friends and family. They also joined almost 8 million other people by taking the pledge to not drive distracted.

Seattle is consistently recognized as one of the safest cities in the country. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a 30 percent decline in traffic fatalities, even as our population grows. Despite this fact, traffic collisions are a leading cause of death for Seattle residents age 5-24.

Vision Zero plans to end all traffic fatalities and injuries by 2030. Stopping distracted driving is an important part of this goal. In 2014, Seattle saw 13,996 collisions of which a whopping 1,826 (13%) were related to distracted driving. Even worse, of the 18 total traffic fatalities, 3 were from distracted driving!

Thank you to ATT, Seattle Public Schools and to the students and staff at Roosevelt High School for taking part in this important safety education program.

Please Put down your phone and focus on the roadIt can wait!