A driving simulator toured venues across the North East of England during summer 2015 to highlight the dangers of drink driving and driver distractions including mobile phones.
The ‘Oculus Rift’ driving simulator was the central element of the 42-day long ‘#SpotRoadi’ campaign which visited locations in Newcastle, Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Northumberland and Gateshead.
#SpotRoadi is part of the wider ‘Road Respect’ umbrella campaign which has been running for several years and is funded by the Northumbria Safer Roads Initiative (NRSI)*.
The Oculus Rift simulator, housed within a new Road Respect van, incorporates iconic North East landmarks such as the Angel of The North, Newcastle Quayside and the Stadium of Light.
For drink driving the simulator has two modes, sober or drunk, to enable users to compare their reactions while under the influence.
The simulator also presents drivers with various distractions including a mobile phone ringing and pedestrians running onto the road. Participants are assessed on their performance and given a score at the end of the exercise. Prizes were presented to those with the best scores each day, with results published in league table form on the campaign Facebook page.
Independent Events, who produced the simulator and managed and delivered the campaign on behalf of NRSI, say the Oculus Rift technology “brings to life what can be quite a somber topic and one that is notoriously difficult to excite and get people to engage with”.
Steve Donaldson, from the Road Respect campaign, said: "Road Respect has always tried to keep at the front of innovation and new technology to make the biggest impact with road users. The Oculus Rift virtual reality technology is the next step!.
“Providing an immersive driving experience and correcting behaviour from our events is a great way to engage and educate. Ultimately the aim is to change driving behaviour, make our roads safer and save lives.”
Northumbria Safer Roads Initiative (NRSI)*
NSRI is a partnership between Northumbria Police and the six local authorities who fall within the force area: Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
Operating under the banner ‘Road Respect’, the partnership has developed and implemented a strong programme of road safety campaign work, primarily aimed at young drivers, who are statistically the most likely road user group to become involved and injured in collisions.
It delivers road safety messages at diverse locations and roadshow events at local schools and colleges, pop-up shops in local shopping centres, and festivals.