Toyota Uses Oculus Rift to Educate Teens About Driving Risks

First Time the VR Technology is Being Used to Educate Public About Safe Driving

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Toyota is hoping a virtual reality experience will convince teens to drive safely.

At the Detroit Auto Show, Toyota launched a distracted driving simulator using Oculus Rift as part of its TeenDrive365 initiative, which offers tools, advice and events to help parents instill safer driving habits in their teens. According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.

Once behind the wheel of a stationary Toyota car, users put on an Oculus Rift headset for a virtual reality driving experience down a city street. The challenge is to stay focused and drive safely using the car's steering wheel and pedals even as traffic sounds, friends' voices, the radio and text messages pop up as distractions.

"People have been excited to try it out and are excited about the possibility of using it in this context," said Marjorie Schussel, corporate marketing director for Toyota. "Being able to see how Oculus Rift can have a profound impact on the way people drive, it's a really powerful demonstration of how we need to be safer behind the wheel."

More than 10,000 people have experienced the first iteration of the driving simulator, with almost 80% saying they would reduce distractions because of the experience. The new simulator, developed by Brightline Interactive in partnership with 360i, is available to try free of charge at auto shows across the country.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Brightline Interactive created the first iteration of the driving simulator. It created the new simulator.