Road users in Merseyside will have the chance to see first-hand the emergency services response to a road traffic collision tomorrow as part of National Road Safety Week.
As part of a behavioural change initiative in Williamson Square in Liverpool City Centre on Wednesday (22nd November), Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, a key member of Merseyside Road Safety Partnership, will give visitors a virtual reality experience of a traffic accident to illustrate the dangers and behaviour that can lead to accidents on the road.
Special virtual reality (VR) headsets will give viewers a first person perspective of the horrors of being involved in a traffic accident and its immediate consequences. The headsets will place the viewer in the passenger seat of a car as it becomes involved in a collision.
The virtual reality experience, which will only be available to visitors aged 15 and over, will be a central feature at Merseyside Road Safety Partnership’s National Road Safety Week roadshow at Williamson Square.
The launch is being supported by Merseyside's Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy. She said: “These immersive VR headsets give drivers a most realistic experience of the horror of being involved in an accident. That makes them a fantastic tool in encouraging people to slow down.
“Here on Merseyside, too many people are knocked down, knocked off their motor bikes and cycles every year, or are injured in their cars so I welcome all initiatives that make our roads safer for everyone that uses them. As we mark Road Safety Week, it’s great that we are now in a position to roll out the use of these headsets in the region.”
Merseyside Road Safety Partnership Co-Ordinator Rebecca Power said: “A major cause of deaths and serious injury on local roads is speed and drivers being distracted while at the wheel of a car, sometimes by the actions or behaviour of their own passengers.
“The virtual reality experience we will have at this event will, for the first time, put visitors directly into a crash situation where you will be able to observe what factors can cause the accident to happen in the first place.”
In addition the road show event will see city centre crews from Merseyside Fire Rescue Service performing a ‘live’ rescue of a passenger from a crashed car to demonstrate the challenges faced by emergency services in similar situations.
There will also be a specially simulated crash vehicle car on view which will demonstrate the impact that a road traffic collision can have on both the vehicle and its passengers.
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Deputy Fire Chief Phil Garrigan said: “The simulated live rescue will hopefully demonstrate very clearly the challenges faced by our crews in such an event and encourage people to think about the very real consequences of being involved in a traffic collision.
“The roadshow event will be an excellent opportunity to show just how important it is for everyone, whether it is drivers, passengers or pedestrians to think safe and stay safe on our roads.”
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said: “Road Safety Week is a vitally important awareness-raising campaign which, every year, alerts more and more people to the dangers associated with travel on our roads.
“I am pleased that, as a region, we are making the most of new technology, such as Virtual Reality, to highlight the catastrophic effects caused by a road traffic collision –as it will go a long way to encouraging road users, drivers in particular, to drive in a more considered and safe way.”
Other activities at the event will include visits from the mini-police, featuring pupils from local schools, plus advice and information on staying safe on Merseyside’s Roads, both for drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
The roadshow will be part of a programme of events during the week which will also see other events taking place in the Wirral and Huyton Town Centre.
Image: The Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, with Mini Pollice at an event marking Road Safety Week in 2016.