Virtual reality app aims to help drivers with safety features

ITASCA, Ill. - 

The National Safety Council teamed up with the University of Iowa to develop a virtual reality app that gives drivers a 360-degree tour of some of the latest driver assistance systems, so they have an understanding how the technologies work before going out on the road.

CarTech VR360, the virtual reality mobile phone app, is part of the MyCarDoesWhat initiative, which the council and university launched in 2015 to inform drivers about new vehicle technologies.

"This might be one of the few cell phone apps that help people be safer drivers," NSC president and chief executive officer Deborah Hersman said in a news release. "Virtual reality is more engaging than any owner's manual; we hope that people use the technology to discover all of the advanced driver assistance systems their vehicles have to offer."

Thirty-nine percent of drivers with new safety technologies say sometimes their vehicles performs in ways that scare or surprise them, according to a new survey released by NSC.

"MyCarDoesWhat has endeavored to address all drivers—virtual reality is a novel medium sure to excite a new generation of road users," said Daniel McGehee, a professor in the college of engineering at the University of Iowa and director of the National Advanced Driving Simulator.

Fatal car crashes are climbing and claimed as many as 40,000 lives last year, according to NSC preliminary estimates.

While technology can help prevent crashes, NSC said drivers need a solid understanding of safety systems to use them safely.

The following are six driver assistance features CarTech VR360 explains:

  1. Automatic emergency braking
  2. Blind spot monitoring
  3. Back-up camera
  4. Lane departure warning
  5. Adaptive cruise control
  6. Drowsiness alert

The app is designed for both iOS and Android operating systems. Instructions for a free download of the app can be found here.

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