A new app has been launched which uses virtual reality technology to help teach road safety to primary school children.
The app, ‘Virtual Road World’, immerses the user in a virtual environment where they are required to complete a series of quests that require them to cross roads in order to navigate around a city.
The app, developed by academics from Cardiff University, has been funded by a £67,000 grant from the Road Safety Trust and is now available on the Apple Store for free.
The project team, led by psychologist Dr Catherine Purcell, drew on previous academic research on the way children learn about road safety to produce a game for 7-9 year-olds using the latest available technology.
During the development stages, Dr Purcell consulted with 100 primary school aged children about the look and feel of the game, and collected ‘in-game data’ from more than 200 children aged 7-9 years.
Dr Purcell says the app has been developed to ‘support and enhance current practice’, rather than replace any existing road safety educational practices or resources.
Dr Catherine Purcell said: “Through our research we know that educating children through the use of illustrated books or kerb side practices can be highly time and resource intensive. We have utilised technology to upskill children in their understanding of road safety.
“The more children get into the game, the more opportunity they have to understand the risks and make safer decisions about where and when to cross the road. I hope that the app will now prove a fun and successful way of supporting road safety education for children of this age.”
Sally Lines OBE, chief executive of the Road Safety Trust, said: “Virtual Road World goes beyond 3D video and games for entertainment, offering a fun and accessible way to help children choose safe road crossing sites in the real world, even though they are able to use it in the safety of the classroom.
“Dr Purcell and members of her team have run their project with discipline and efficiency, and have succeeded in delivering a first-class product that really can make a difference in making children safer on the roads.”