Infrastructure services firm Amey, in collaboration with Holovis, has launched a new virtual reality tool to wake drivers up to the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel.
The multi-sensory driver training simulator combines 360° visuals with immersive audio, perfectly synched motion and gesture-based interactivity.
The Government’s Road Safety Strategy, “Tomorrow’s Roads: Safer for Everyone” identifies driver fatigue as one of the main areas of driver behaviour that needs to be addressed, with shift workers six times more likely to be in a fatigue-related crash, whether that be at work (operating machinery or vehicles) or commuting.
The venture into totally immersive experience training is said to be a first in the infrastructure industry as Amey pursues ever greater safety performance across all its 300-plus client contracts. With a 7,500-vehicle fleet supporting hundreds of public and private sector services contracts across the UK, some 13,000 of Amey's 19,000 employees drive as part of their job and 10% of employees work night shifts. The simulator will be offered as part of a suite of training to the firm’s 13,000 drivers across the UK.
Tom Lawless, group fleet and plant director at Amey explained: “Despite all the advice, policies, training and support we give our drivers, we can’t be there at the point they are making that decision to get behind the wheel. The idea for the simulator was born out of evidence in our rail business that people who experienced near misses were the safest. By re-creating all the conditions of driver fatigue, and the shock and emotions of a near miss, in a totally safe environment we hope to make our drivers safer, whether they’re at work or not.”
The simulator is made from real vehicle components, with a driver seat and steering wheel so it’s just like sitting in and driving the real thing. Users wear a VR headset with surround audio, special effects and gesture tracked interactivity. At crucial times of the experience, the simulator moves in synch with highly realistic visuals that are accurate 1:1 scale and rendered using real-time media, so they behave exactly as they would in the real world. As the experience continues the users vision clouds and various hazards are encountered before the moment of truth.