A SIMULATION of what it is like to be a passenger in a fatal crash has won a top European road safety award for Cork County Council.
The Your Life – Your Choice project by the council won gold at the Excellence in Road Safety Awards 2021 in Brussels.
The project involved 1,200 students from across the county. The project involved young drivers being connected by virtual reality headsets to immerse the user in a 360-degree simulation of a fatal road crash from the point of view of the front seat passenger.
The headsets were sponsored by Aviva Driving School and the programme has since been rolled out across the entire country, reaching over 10,000 students to date.
It was spearheaded by Cork County Council Road Safety Officer Caroline Casey, with assistance from West Cork Community Gardai and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue.
Cork County Council was one of thirteen finalists chosen from applications submitted by schools, associations, enterprises, local authorities and research centres across Europe.
The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Gillian Coughlan, said: “It is fantastic to see Cork County Council being recognised at a European level. This programme is a perfect example of how technology is helping to change people’s behaviour and make our roads safer. It allows drivers to experience a road traffic accident in a safe way.
Chief executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, said: “The Virtual Reality programme is targeted at younger drivers, aged 16 to 25 who are among the most vulnerable road users.
"We know that passenger fatalities are highest in this age group. The VR headsets put the young person in the passenger seat so they can experience the reality of a serious crash.
"They began thinking about speeding, the use of mobile phones, wearing a seatbelt and driver distraction.”
Cork County Council was named the overall winner in the Local/Public Authority category, with one of the other finalists being Transport Infrastructure Ireland.
The 13 shortlisted initiatives were focused on delivering road safety through specific measurable actions in their areas of responsibility.