Academics from Cardiff University have developed a new app which uses virtual reality technology to help teach road safety to primary school children.
The app, ‘Virtual Road World’, immerses the user in a virtual environment where they are required to complete a series of quests that require them to cross roads in order to navigate around a city.
The app has been funded by a £67,000 grant from the Road Safety Trust and is now available on the Apple Store for free.
The project team, led by psychologist Dr Catherine Purcell, drew on previous academic research on the way children learn about road safety to produce a game for 7-9 year-olds using the latest available technology.
During the development stages, Dr Purcell consulted with 100 primary school aged children about the look and feel of the game, and collected ‘in-game data’ from more than 200 children aged 7-9 years.
Dr Purcell says the app has been developed to ‘support and enhance current practice’, rather than replace any existing road safety educational practices or resources.
Dr Purcell said: “I am thrilled to have Virtual Road World available on the Apple Store, and to know that it has already been downloaded in the UK and the USA.
“The opportunity is there to help educate children about a very real problem. Preventable pedestrian road traffic collisions represent the second largest cause of death for children aged 5 to 14 years worldwide.
“The research conducted with the test version of the app, in conjunction with the University of South Wales, suggests that children scored more points on their final level of the game compared to their first level and needed fewer attempts on their final level compared to their first level.”
Sally Lines OBE, chief executive of the Road Safety Trust, said: “Virtual Road World goes beyond 3D video and games for entertainment, offering a fun and accessible way to help children choose safe road crossing sites in the real world, even though they are able to use it in the safety of the classroom.
“Dr Purcell and members of her team have run their project with discipline and efficiency, and have succeeded in delivering a first-class product that really can make a difference in making children safer on the roads.”