Recent efforts by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to improve traffic safety have been surprisingly fun and engaging for the public. To help bring awareness to traffic safety, TDOT has held annual contests to see who can come up with the best safety message. Traffic safety messages are displayed on roadside signs throughout the state.
Tennessee motorists, students and residents were given the opportunity to craft their own safety messages on distracted driving, impaired driving and speeding. For example, last year’s winning traffic safety message was, “Texting and driving? Oh cell no!” TDOT did require that no profanity be used for any of the messages, even if many found it tempting to push the envelope to describe driving habits that are universally hated.
The idea got us thinking. What other concepts can be used to engage the public on traffic safety education?
HOW CAN WE MAKE TRAFFIC SAFETY EDUCATION FUN FOR STUDENTS?
Video games continue to become more immersive every year, and virtual reality technology has undergone several recent advances. For example, the Oculus, a wearable virtual reality headset, can be used to create incredibly immersive environments for games and other software. What if we used virtual reality for traffic safety education? This idea has been brought to many locations around the country, including Tennessee.
The West Tennessee Driving Simulator Program lets schools and communities sign up so young and new drivers can experience the perils of distracted driving. Other programs also have immersive simulators for both distracted and impaired driving. The AAA Driving Simulator allows high school students to experience how difficult it is to operate vehicles while distracted or impaired.
Distracted and impaired driving simulators have advanced setups that mimic reality. The Save a Life Tour has brought distracted and impaired driving simulators to schools around the country. This program utilizes multiple high definition display screens, excellent graphics, steering wheels, brakes and gas pedals. Students are required to answer text messages while navigating a virtual environment in front of a crowd of their peers. Many of course, fail to reach their virtual destinations and suffer digital distracted and impaired driving accidents.
Instead of learning through tragedy about the dangers of distracted or impaired driving, students can experience it in a harmless virtual environment while having fun. Real life has no “Game Over” screen after experiencing a fatal car accident.
WHY TRAFFIC SAFETY EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT
Traffic safety education can help save lives. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there were 227 fatal drunk driving accidents in Tennessee throughout 2013. Distracted driving killed 41 Tennessee motorists in 2014. Poor driving habits are a threat to public safety and immersive traffic safety education programs can help show the public why these habits are dangerous. Engaging the community and making traffic safety education fun might continue to help save lives here in Tennessee and across the nation.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
Stanley Davis is a car and truck accident lawyer in Nashville, TN. In addition to representing motorists and passengers, many of his clients include cab drivers hit by other vehicles.