PEERS Foundation’s Augmented Reality Program Headed to Missouri High Schools

Missouri is the first state DOT to fund the unique safe-driving educational experience.

Grand Rapids, Michigan – September 13, 2019 – Missouri teen drivers rank among the worst in the nation according to a recent study of the Best & Worst States for Teen Drivers by WalletHub. In an effort to begin changing that statistic, the PEERS Foundation, a Grand Rapids, Michigan based non-profit organization, will take its ARDDES Aware Distracted Driving Prevention Program to ten Missouri high schools this year thanks to funding from the Missouri Department of Transportation.

“Missouri is the first state department of transportation to partner with us,” said PEERS Foundation’s Chairman of the Board Mike Seymore when the state’s federally funded National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) grant was announced. “The award will fund our program at ten schools that reported having less than 60% seatbelt use among teen drivers in 2018.”

The ARDDES (short for Augmented Reality Distracted Driving Education Simulator) Aware experience incorporates live teaching, video testimony, and peer interaction with the PEERS Foundation’s state-of-the-art driving simulator. Wearing a Meta2 augmented-reality headset, the ARDDES simulator challenges participants to make quick decisions regarding realistic distractions from oncoming traffic, pedestrians, passengers and cell phones while ‘driving’ to avoid potential (simulated) collisions.

“We’ve made it as realistic as we possibly could,” said PEERS Foundation’s CEO, Mike Seymore. “We use a real car for the simulator, and in addition to seeing the actual dashboard and their own hands on the steering wheel, participants see oncoming and passing traffic in the car’s rear-view mirror and windows. A person could actually stick their head out of the car’s side window and still be completely immersed in the virtual world that we’ve created.”

With 88% of participants from the 2018/19 school year either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement, “After experiencing the simulator, I am more likely to eliminate distractions while driving,” post-event surveys indicate that the ARDDES Aware program is successfully raising awareness and changing behaviors related to seat belt use and distracted driving.

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.