The reality of ageing behind the wheel
New VR tool to help coach older drivers stay safe behind the wheel
Older drivers have a new tool to aid their driving, providing understanding of the changing demands and respectful tuition to keep them and other road users safer when they are behind the wheel.
As we age, then our natural abilities in the driving seat change too.
Young and novice drivers remain the most crash prone of all age groups. Experience as we age certainly improves our driving abilities and awareness. However, the ageing process also brings with it some physical and mental degradation. Our awareness of this is essential so that we can accommodate the changes and remain fully in control.
The new virtual reality (VR) intervention has been developed to help mature drivers better understand these risks and hazards as they become more prevalent with age.
Keep Driving VR, is the first virtual reality education film created entirely through crowdfunding. It has been coordinated and produced by the ICE Hub with support from many partners.
Support has come from:
- Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service
- Buckinghamshire County Council
- Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership
- Wiltshire Council
- Luton Borough Council
- Avon & Somerset Police
- Hertfordshire County Council
- West Mercia Police
- Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue
- Older Drivers Forum
- Cheshire West and Chester Council
- Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
The film does not aim to deflate older driver confidence about driving. In fact the opposite is true. Being capable of independence for as long as possible is an essential ingredient in remaining healthy in mind and body.
References are made to some of the negative effects of age on driving, such as impaired vision and reduced physical mobility. However, the main purpose is to increase awareness of the issues older drivers face, facilitate engagement and offer coping strategies.
Its key objectives are:
- Increasing awareness of reduced physical mobility (i.e. range of next movement)
- Understanding the effect impaired vision can have on safe driving
- Demonstrating how speed perception abilities can deteriorate with age
- Reinforcing the importance of maintaining hazard awareness and prediction skills
Sharing the learning
It is intended the film is used in groups, ideally with a road safety facilitator.
Firstly, the film begins with a section lasting around four minutes. After this, viewers are asked to remove the headset and engage in a discussion.
They then put the headset on again and complete the final section of the film. This includes either a rural or urban commentary drive sequence. This is dependent on the hosting facilitator and what they feel is most appropriate.
The Older Drivers Forum chair, Rob Head, has produced comprehensive facilitator notes to ensure the delivery of the key messages, whilst also making sure that any risks around using VR are fully mitigated.
Sharing the road ahead
Key in coordinating and producing the new VR tool is James Evans, founder of FirstCar.
“This is the first virtual reality education film created entirely through crowdfunding and it’s been an amazing experience.
“Not only have the production costs been shared between multiple agencies, but the production process has been enriched by having so much experience and expertise around the table during the planning, shooting and editing phases.
“I’m delighted that Rob Heard, chair of the Older Driver’s Forum, was able and willing to lead on the specialist areas of the storyboard and script. He also presented/narrated the film, drawing on his own experiences in retiring from the police and accepting that some of his advanced skills would surely depreciate over time.
“This gives the film an incredibly personal feel, whilst remaining professional.”
You can find out more about the VR film and how to gain access to it by contacting James Evans via email.