Virtual reality will be used in a new awareness campaign #GetTruckWise to help reduce the number of accidents and deaths involving young people driving near heavy vehicles.
The pilot campaign, which is being developed now for a 2020 launch, is targeting young drivers aged 16 to 25 years old using 360 degree videos and virtual reality to create an immersive experience and help them understand the importance of driving safely around heavy vehicles.
It will highlight the challenges for truck drivers involved in manoeuvring and turning long vehicles on the roads and the extent of their blind spot.
The City of Greater Bendigo is leading the pilot campaign in partnership with the Transport Accident Commission and the Bendigo Tech School.
A number of local freight operators have also come on board to offer access to their vehicles and contribute real life on-road experiences to the campaign.
Road safety was the number one concern among truck drivers and operators who participated in the city’s 2017 Bendigo Freight Study: How goods are moved around Greater Bendigo.
In response to these concerns, the council sought Commonwealth funding via the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and secured $250,000 to create a pilot campaign.
Recent figures also revealed that 80 per cent of accidents involving young drivers interacting with heavy vehicles occurred on the highway network.
A quarter of accidents between cars and articulated trucks involved drivers who were 25 years or under.
Mayor Margaret O’Rourke said freight operators were concerned young drivers were putting themselves at risk because of a lack of understanding of how to behave when they encountered heavy vehicles on the road.
“There is a major gap in current practical and educational material to help young drivers improve their skills behind the wheel and instill safe habits,” Cr O’Rourke said.
“The council will lead the campaign and we hope that through this unique collaboration with our partners we can engage with young drivers and help to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities.”
The pilot campaign is one of the first of its kind in Australia to use emerging virtual reality and 360 degree video technology.
Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria vice president Marla Stone said that the strategy would help educate young learners about sharing the road safely with heavy vehicles.
“We know this is an important and overdue initiative that will help save young lives,” Ms Stone said.
Statistics are sourced from the National Truck Insurance via the National Transport Accident Research Centre in 2017.