Cork County Council has won Gold at the Excellence in Road Safety Awards in Brussels this week, thanks to its virtual reality headset which simulates a 360-degree experience of a fatal car crash.
The VR headsets were first introduced back in 2018 as part of a programme that has since involved 10,000 students. 13 finalists were chosen in the Local Authority category, but Cork County Council beat out its rivals on the criteria of impact, measurability, transferability, innovative approach, visibility and continuity.
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. We have to be innovative, work together and learn from each other if we are to continue to reduce the number of fatalities on our roads.”
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey added: “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.
“The most important factor for us is that 88% of participants said they would change their attitude and behaviour after taking part in this programme. They began thinking about speeding, the use of mobile phones, wearing a seatbelt and driver distraction.”