You can’t fight progress they say. So how can you define ‘progress’? Highways England has introduced a virtual reality app that it says can reduce the risk of commercial drivers being involved in accidents. The app is free, but the driver must put on a pair of cardboard glasses to utilise it (yes, we checked that this wasn’t an April Fool’s story).

The app can be accessed on a smart phone attached to a simple pair of cardboard goggles so drivers can use it before they get behind the wheel.

John Walford Commercial Vehicle Incident Prevention Team Leader said:
We have set ourselves the long term vision that no-one should be harmed while travelling or working on our roads, and within that it is doing all we can to help reduce collisions involving lorries because they tend to have a greater impact when they do occur.

They most commonly occur when trucks change lanes or attempt to overtake and using this technology allows us to provide a realistic environment for commercial vehicle drivers so that they can experience the impact of not using their mirrors to check blind spots. It’s just one of the steps we’re taking to help improve safety for this valuable group of drivers and ultimately everyone who uses our network.

The app includes 5 road safety scenarios for both left and right hand drive vehicles and has been developed to stress the importance of adjusting mirrors to cater for driving in a different way when in the UK. The blind spot app has 5 scenarios:
• mirror adjustment
• identifying vehicles in blind spots
• joining a motorway from a slip road
• overtaking
• tailgating

Although developed for commercial vehicle drivers, the app could also benefit private motorists by giving them a sense of what commercial vehicle drivers experience every day. For example, helping them to understand the location of commercial vehicle blind spots and hence reduce the potential for unnecessary accidents.

The virtual reality app is just an example of the safety initiatives that Highways England has developed as part of its commercial vehicle incident prevention programme. The programme includes initiatives to improve the design and maintenance of commercial vehicles and initiatives to assist operators and drivers.

Published by Highways England – 25th April 2018

We may invite them along to the Movers & Storers Show in November to provide a demonstration to attendees, but if any of you have experienced this new app please get in touch with your findings (and photos!) – we would be interested to hear them.