Coalition of Missouri Non-Profits and PEERS Foundation to Work Together

Augmented Reality Distracted Driving Prevention Program to Tour Missouri Schools

Grand Rapids, Michigan – December 4, 2019 – On November 18, 2010, twenty-year-old Missouri resident Kaela Marie Archambault died when she crashed head-on into a school bus, the result of distracted driving. Since that horrific day, her father, Shawn Archambault, has made it his mission to honor his daughter’s memory by inspiring others to become safe drivers and advocating for road improvement in Missouri.

On the recent ninth anniversary of Kaela’s death, Archambault’s KMA Foundation, along with the East- West Gateway Council of Governments, Missouri Department of Transportation, and Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety agreed to take the Grand Rapids, Michigan based PEERS Foundation’s Augmented Reality Distracted Driving Education Simulator (ARDDES) distracted driving prevention program to six Missouri high schools as part of the East-West Gateway and Missouri Department of Transportation’s St. Louis Youth Drive for Tomorrow program. “Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for youth ages 15 to 20 in Missouri, and a whopping fifty percent of Missouri’s teen drivers admit to texting while driving,” said PEERS Foundation’s CEO, Mike Seymore.

The high-energy ARDDES experience incorporates live teaching, video testimony, and peer interaction with the PEERS Foundation’s state-of-the-art driving simulator to educate students about the dangers of distracted driving. “Students have always heard the details of a fatal accident caused by distracted driving and how it has affected the loved ones left behind during the ARDDES presentation. We feel that sharing Kaela’s story and having her father present at each event to share his experience will certainly bring home the reality of how dangerous distracted driving is,” said Seymore.

PEERS’ ARDDES Simulator experience is as lifelike as it can possibly be. Students ‘drive’ an actual car while wearing a Meta-2 augmented reality headset which allows for a 360-degree immersive experience in the simulator. Oncoming cars, passing traffic, and pedestrians are visible in the car’s windows and rear-view mirror, and ‘drivers’ are able to safely experience distractions such as tuning the radio, talking on the phone, and texting. To intensify the experience, each simulated drive is broadcast on a big screen allowing waiting students to witness their peer’s simulated driving successes and failures.

As part of the St. Louis Youth Drive for Tomorrow program, each participating school will receive KMA’s safe-driving pledge banner. This banner is signed by students during the presentation and then displayed in the school as a regular reminder to students of their commitment to distraction-free driving. The KMA Foundation will also be awarding a $500 scholarship to one senior from each school.

A 501c3 non-profit organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the PEERS Foundation creates innovative and interactive interventions to engage today’s youth and empower them to make better decisions around health, wellness, and education.