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How distracted are you when driving?Back

There are a million ways to become distracted when driving a car. From chatty passengers to phone calls and instant messages, any one of them could prove fatal in a split second.

Young drivers are particularly susceptible to distractions. Latest European Commission data reveals that more than 3,600 young people are killed in accidents on Europe’s roads every year – and two thirds are drivers.



Most common distractions

The most common distractions, according to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), are:

  • Mobile phones. A substantial body of research shows that using a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone while driving is a significant distraction, and substantially increases the risk of the driver crashing.
  • Headphones. It is expected that drivers who are wearing headphones would need to shift their attention from what they hear in their headphones to external sound sources in certain situations, which could delay the speed of their response to external events. This is thought to be dangerous enough to form a risk in emergency situations.
  • Sat Navs. Used well, a sat nav can help drivers plan routes and prevent them from making last minute lane changes or hesitating because they are not sure of the directions. However, a badly used sat nav can distract the driver and increase the risk of an accident. It is important that drivers understand how best to use their sat nav and learn not to use it when it may be dangerous to do so.


Developers have created a new virtual reality app which brings to life the potentially fatal consequences of driving when distracted.

The experience, created by Ford, uses Google Daydream VR to cast you as a distracted driver picking up friends on the way to a party. Instant messages, phone calls and chatty passengers all compete for attention, sparking a series of near misses. The final distraction proves fatal – and you are to blame.

Ford Reality Check’s creators hope the educational app will help young people to develop safer driving practices.

Jim Graham, manager of Ford Driving Skills for Life, said: “Being involved in a car crash can be a life-changing experience – and sadly, for too many young people, one that cuts lives tragically short. We hope that by providing a chilling glimpse of how easily this could actually happen, we will encourage young people to drive more safely.

“Virtual reality is the ideal medium to highlight the dangers of distracted driving to young motorists. This age group is more likely to engage with VR, and studies suggest immersive experiences in virtual worlds can positively influence behaviours in the real world too.”

How it works

The interruptions faced by drivers in Ford Reality Check are based upon the most prevalent and dangerous distractions for this age group, including those from smartphones and passengers. The app tracks the amount of time the driver doesn’t have their eyes on the road, displaying the total at the end.

In the app, the smartphone in the driver’s hand becomes a key interactive element. The handheld Google Daydream controller mirrors the behaviour and interactions of the virtual phone within the app.

Ford Reality Check is the first app for the Google Daydream VR platform aimed at educating young drivers. “The powerful creative collaboration between Ford, their agency partners and Google (Zoo) has given rise to a meaningful educational VR project that has the potential to save many young drivers’ lives,” said Steve Paler from Google.

The app will be demonstrated at the Ford Driving Skills for Life events in November at the ExCeL in London. It is expected to be made available from the Google Play Store at a later date.

Posted by Beth Rose on 09/10/2017