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Deakin University appointed to create new driver education campaign

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The City of Greater Bendigo is pleased to announce that Deakin University has been selected to create a new awareness campaign #GetTruckWise aimed at young drivers and their behaviour around trucks.

Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke said Deakin University’s CADET Virtual Reality Lab was selected for its expertise in creating immersive and engaging experiences after a competitive tender process.

“Deakin University is leading the education and innovation sector in creating immersive and engaging experiences. The university’s Virtual Reality laboratory and 360 degree video will develop real-life scenarios to educate young drivers and improve hazard awareness in their encounters with heavy vehicles,” Cr O’Rourke said.

“This is not a training video for young drivers. The aim of #GetTruckWise is to help young drivers to be aware of the very real challenges facing truck drivers every day and hopefully help them gain more empathy about sharing the road safely and not taking risks.”

Road crashes are one of the leading causes of death among young people. Each year about 90 people are killed and 1,800 are seriously injured in crashes involving 18-25 year olds. The crash rate for novice drivers far exceeds crash and fatality rates of older (middle-aged) drivers, being up to 10 times higher than that of the safest group. Significantly, a consistent finding worldwide is the extremely high crash and fatality rate during the first year of driving, particularly during the first six to 12 months of unsupervised driving. More than half of these incidents occur on country roads*. 

“Road safety was also the biggest concern among truck drivers and operators who participated in the City’s 2017 Bendigo Freight Study: How goods are moved around Greater Bendigo,” Cr O’Rourke said.  

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) for providing $250,000 in funding, under the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, supported by the Commonwealth Government.”

The City is leading the campaign in partnership with the Transport Accident Commission and the Bendigo Tech School. A number of local freight operators have also come on board to offer access to their vehicles and contribute to real-life experiences for the campaign.

Associate Professor Ben Horan, who leads the CADET Virtual Reality Lab at Deakin University, said they were delighted to be involved in this important awareness campaign.

“This is a very exciting project where we can take full advantage of using Virtual Reality and 360 degree video to help immerse young drivers in virtually replicate real-life scenarios. On our proposed roadshows, participants will wear headsets to enter virtual scenarios designed to provide a real sense of what it’s like from a truck driver’s point of view. We want them to experience challenges such as manoeuvring a long vehicle and dealing with blind spots,” Associate Professor Horan said.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said it was important that young drivers understood how to stay safe around heavy vehicles.

“Figures show that light vehicles are involved in a significant number of heavy vehicle crashes. Understanding important safety tips like a truck’s blind spots, allowing extra distance for a heavy vehicle to brake and the space needed to turn can reduce the risk for all road users,” Mr Petroccitto said.

A strong social media campaign is an important aspect of the project and an online educational hub will be accessible at a national level once the pilot has been completed. The campaign will be launched next year.

*Oxley, Charlton, Starkey & Isler, (2014). Understanding novice driver behaviour: review of the literature.


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