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Virtual Reality and Auto Accidents

Last Updated: April 22nd, 2019 at 05:50 pm
Read Time: 3 Minutes

Last December about 150 students attending Coral Springs Charter School got a hands-on driving lesson with the aid of a virtual reality (VR) simulator. As part of the AT&T It Can Wait campaign, the VR experience is designed to emphasize the message that distracted driving is dangerous and in some cases deadly.

In research conducted by AT&T, 9-in-10 people admitted to using their smartphone while they were driving. Even more concerning, they admitted to doing things like checking their email, using social media, and even taking pictures. And, of course, texting.

AT&T’s 3D, immersive VR experience puts students face to face with the dangers of smartphone distracted driving. Ten years ago the It Can Wait campaign began as a program to educate people about the dangers of texting and driving and has evolved to cover all types of smartphone use that can distract drivers.

Can VR Change Driver Behavior?

This is just one example of how uses for AR technology has evolved beyond video games and Second Life to have real-world applications. Virtual and augmented reality can trick people’s brains into feeling as if a VR experience was real. And, in much the same way that impactful experiences can change behavior, early research indicates that visceral VR experiences can also change behavior. And it’s hard to find an experience as impactful as an auto accident, whether in real life or through VR simulation.

A VR experience can simulate a dangerous or painful consequence that people will then be motivated to avoid. Ever duck at something flying out of the screen at a 3-D movie? It's the same principle. Even though the actual experience may be simulated, the brain does not differentiate between the emotions felt during a real or simulated experience.

However, VR driving simulation can go further than letting people feel what it would be like to be involved in an auto accident. It can also help people learn to respond more quickly in a dangerous situation. This, in turn, could reduce auto accidents and the injuries they can cause.

Where Is VR Technology Going?

From an app that helps you find a parking place to a VR experience that relieves anxiety in pediatric patients, to helping patients cope with loss of balance, the sky’s the limit when it comes to VR technology. What once seemed like science fiction is quickly becoming science fact.

Based on research carried out by Google’s Daydream labs, people who get VR training learn faster than those who watch video tutorials. The experiment involved teaching students how to make espresso. One group received video training and a second group received VR training. The VR group mastered the process faster and made fewer mistakes.

Consider how this can be used to help predict balance issues and prevent fall injuries for people who have balance issues. Whether due to age or disease, when the sense of perception declines, falls become more common. Using VR, balance impairment could be better diagnosed, and patients could be trained to improve their balance in a safe environment.

VR technology is likely to affect all facets of our lives, especially medicine. More than one billion medical practices in hospitals are projected to be using virtual reality software by 2020. Specialized software for surgeons, general practitioners, and chiropractors are being developed. This software is expected to help with diagnostics, physical therapy, and more. What was once considered a gimmick is turning out to be an important tool for health and healing.

About the Author:
Dr. Andrew Sands
A licensed chiropractor since 1996, Dr. Andrew Sands has been freeing people from pain for over 20 years. Dr. Sands uses a “whole person approach” when treating his patients, combining the very best hands-on techniques with state-of-the-art physiotherapy procedures. Dr. Sands is passionate about helping patients accelerate and maintain their journey to good health.
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