Ford's VR experience highlights the dangers cyclists often face out on the road.
Ford is currently on a mission to make roads safer for cyclists. In the UK, 16% of cyclist deaths are caused by large commercial trucks. While 75% of the mileage these trucks clock up are on non-built up roads such as highways, over the past three years commercial trucks were involved in 70% of cyclist deaths in London, despite making up only 4% of the capital's road miles.
To highlight the dangers cyclists often face out on the road, Ford's Transport Operations team partnered with the London Cycling campaign to bring Ford's 'WheelSwap' VR experience, part of the automaker's 'Share the Road Campaign' to life, allowing motorists to experience a journey from a cyclist's journey and vice versa.
As part of the WheelSwap VR experience, Tom Bogdanowicz, Senior Policy and Development Officer at London Cycling Campaign, swapped perspectives with three drivers and driver trainers from the Ford Transport Operations team. In the truck, the conversation between the two road users focused on the vision of the driver and situations where a cyclist is and is not visible to the driver, keeping the appropriate distance when passing a cyclist, and ensuring truck drivers do not enter 'bike boxes.'
Car drivers often get frustrated with cyclists when they ride in the middle of the road and slow down traffic. The experience aimed to help drivers understand why cyclists may be riding centrally in the road to avoid potholes or getting hit by a door being opened from a parked vehicle, particularly on narrow streets.
"Having a change of perspectives was certainly insightful "said Andrew Main, driver trainer, Ford Transport Operations team and DVSA instructor. "A greater understanding of the reasons behind cyclists' actions is very helpful for an LGV driver as we decide on how to approach certain situations."
Ford and its Transport Operations will be demonstrating the WheelSwap VR experience and a static truck activity at local schools during the UK's Road Safety Week. After this, the Ford Transport Operations team intend to trial the 'Safer Urban Driving' module, which includes a practical cycling element, as part of their Driver Certificate of Personal Competence, which all professional truck, bus and coach drivers must take in the UK. They will also use the 'WheelSwap' VR in future vulnerable road user training.