Ford has developed a new ‘virtual reality experience’ to promote safer interaction between drivers and cyclists.
‘Wheelswap’ enables motorists and cyclists to see how inconsiderate driving and riding can be ‘hair-raising’ – and potentially fatal – for fellow road users.
Ford says the app has been trialled by 1,200 people across five European countries, with 70% of participants experiencing greater empathy to their driving and cycling counterparts after watching the film.
Furthermore, 91% said they planned to change their on-road habits, and two weeks after watching the video 60% said they had changed their behaviour on their day-to-day travels.
In the UK, 80% of drivers who experienced Wheelswap changed their behaviour within two weeks – the highest of any European country involved in the trial.
Ford says it is integrating the virtual reality experience into its free driver-training programme for 17 to 24-year-olds, Ford Driving Skills for Life.
Dan Berry, a behavioural scientist who helped devise the experiment, said: “There is no more effective means of appreciating someone else’s point of view than stepping into their shoes, or in this case, on to their pedals. Empathy is an immensely powerful emotion.”
Steven Armstrong, president and CEO, Ford of Europe, Middle East & Africa, said: “As someone who frequently travels on both two wheels and four wheels, I have experienced first-hand many of the frustrations – and dangers – that drivers and cyclists encounter on our roads today.
“The safe integration of increasingly diverse modes of transportation is key to how we make our cities safer and easier for everyone to get about in, now and in the future.”
The campaign is supported by Sir David Brailsford, who heads up the Team Sky cycle team.
David Brailsford said: “This is a very timely initiative by Ford. Europe is home to some of the world’s largest cycling communities and the increased pressure on road space is raising safety ever higher up the agenda.
“This campaign is not just about introducing new technology but also highlighting the need for equal respect and responsibility.
“If both cyclists and motorists took a little bit more time to understand each other’s needs, we would quickly see a change in attitudes and behaviour, which can ultimately improve road safety for everybody.”