Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd
VR headsets provide car crash experience
Published:  22 July, 2016

UK brigade adopts VR headsets as part of road safety virtual reality project. 

VF4 360 is a Samsung virtual reality project for the public sector that aims to give young motorists a realistic experience of a road traffic collision from the driver’s perspective.

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service approached Samsung because it wanted to communicate its road safety programme in an engaging way to school children. The VF4 360 Experience is an evolution of a previous initiative - the most advanced car crash simulator in the UK, the Virtual Fatal 4 (VF4). The VF4 360 uses six minutes of content, offering the user a VR experience that highlights, in the most realistic way possible, the dangers young drivers face on the road. Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service hopes to allow over 12,000 students a year to experience the VF4 360 simulator and to put them through the associated Fatal Four road safety talks.

The VF4 360 Experience has already received a considerable amount of positive feedback from users, with 90% claiming that they would take fewer risks on the roads thanks to participating in the simulation and 80% saying that they prefer this type of VR communication tool to deliver such a powerful safety message.

Samsung’s Gear VR and S6 smartphones will enable large groups of young drivers to experience consequences of The Fatal Four, providing much wider access to the experience than in previous programmes. VF4 360 will also be showcased in a forthcoming Channel Four documentary called ‘Behind The Blue Lights’ and has recently generated media coverage, including BBC Breakfast, and BBC Radio 1.

Paul Speight, Watch Manager for Road Safety, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘VR has the potential to help us meet the challenges of road safety education in a hugely exciting and engaging new way. Thousands of young British drivers and school children will now be able to access the most fully immersive road safety experience we’ve developed. Thanks to the Samsung Gear VR technology, we are now able to communicate an incredibly powerful safety message, offering users a Fatal Four experience that is as close to real-life as possible.’

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service launched VF4 360 to 160 road safety practitioners from the blue light services and road safety officers from councils and agencies, and has since been showcasing the film and VR equipment to services in West Yorkshire, Bedfordshire, Staffordshire and across Wales to give a presentation and demonstration of the film and the VR equipment.

Suzanne Homewood, head of enterprise at Samsung, commented:  ‘The possibilities for using VR in these types of innovative, impactful safety and educational initiatives are endless. Since the VF4 360 content has been released, for example, we know that the fire and rescue service has received strong interest from other public sectors across the country, including the police and ambulance services.’