Conceiving, designing, and incorporating safety into a product portfolio at the forefront of the transportation industry is admirable. Making advances in assisted and autonomous driving is exciting to say the least. However, when you realize that each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured1 in preventable distracted driving automobile accidents, and that teen drivers are nearly three times more likely to be in a fatal crash2 than older drivers, it’s time to step up and use your resources in a way that impacts automotive safety in the here and now.
ZF, a global leader in the automotive industry, has joined the PEERS Foundation, a nation-wide health and wellness organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to shape the next generation of drivers with a unique distracted driving prevention program. Founded in 2007, PEERS, which stands for Professionals Encouraging Educational Reforms, creates innovative and interactive learning interventions to engage today’s youth and empower them to make better decisions around health, wellness, and education. Both ZF and PEERS focus on utilizing emerging technology – ZF in its ‘See. Think. & Act.” focus with automated driving and advanced driver assist systems and PEERS as they use a one-of-a-kind, augmented-reality (AR) simulator to educate high school students to see, think, and act with safe driving in mind.
The ARDDES Experience
The ARDDES (short for Augmented Reality Distracted Driving Education Simulator) Experience incorporates live teaching, video testimony, and peer interaction with the PEERS Foundation’s state-of-the-art driving simulator. Participating students wear a meta-2 AR headset while in the simulator, which allows for a 360-degree immersive experience.
“We’ve made it as realistic as we could,” said PEERS Foundation’s CEO, Mike Seymore. “In addition to seeing the actual dashboard of the simulator car and their own hands on the steering wheel, oncoming and passing traffic are visible in the car’s rear-view mirror and windows. A student could actually stick their head out of the car’s side window and still be completely immersed in the virtual world that we have created.” The interactive augmented-reality program allows drivers to safely experience distractions like texting, checking social media, or using vehicle features like the radio or navigation system while ‘driving’.
“Because it’s new and high-tech, teens
gravitate toward the simulator,” says Scott Seymore. Schools report that students are still talking about the experience
weeks after the experience. In fact, follow-up surveys indicate 60 days
after an ARDDES activation, 82% of participants are still steadfast in their
commitment not to use their smartphones while in the car.
Changing the Way Teens Drive in South Carolina
A Laurens High School student pledges to avoid distracted driving.
According to a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), South Carolina, where ZF Transmissions Gray Court is located, is ranked number 3 in the nation for deadly accidents3. With ZF funding, the PEERS Foundation is putting students from eight South Carolina high schools behind the wheelof a car and challenging them to see, think, act, and make smart driving decisions.
“Awe, snap!” was Laurens student Duane’s exclamation when his simulator experience found him on the sidewalk hitting pedestrians after looking down, “…like just for one second.” Afterward, he said, “Just put your phone down, it’s not worth your life or anybody else’s.”
Initial responses from the first two schools, Hillcrest High School in Simpsonville, SC, and Laurens High School in Laurens, SC, were positive and enthusiastic. In post-simulator surveys, 88.4% of students either agreed or strongly agreed to the statement, “After experiencing the simulator, I am more likely to eliminate distractions while driving.”
With ZF, the PEERS Foundation, and the ARDDES Experience, technology and safety are working hand in hand to shape the next generation and the driving experience.
- National Center for Statistics and Analysis. Distracted Driving: 2015Cdc-pdfExternal, in Traffic Safety Research Notes. DOT HS 812 381. March 2017, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Washington, D.C.
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Fatality Facts: Teenagers 2016. Arlington (VA): The Institute; 2017, http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/teenagers/fatalityfacts/teenagersExternal. Accessed 24 July 2018.
- Safewise, The Deadliest and Safest States for Car Crashes, DOT HS 812 581, October 2018, 2016 State Traffic Data, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Washington, D. C.