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Ford Reality Check VR App Looks to Curb Distracted Driving Habits in Teens

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Ford Reality Check VR App

FOMO. It’s a powerful thing. For those not acronymically-inclined, FOMO means “fear of missing out,” and Ford says that FOMO is leading increasingly to teens being involved in road accidents because they are concerned with checking their phones on a regular basis. But a new app is hoping to curb that trend ASAP by highlighting for teenagers the consequences—potentially fatal—that they are privy to for driving distracted.

“Studies show that the part of the brain that helps to reduce distress when we are excluded by our peers is less active when we are younger,” said neuroscientist Lynda Shaw. “Teenagers find it extremely upsetting to be left out by their group. Importantly, this prefrontal cortex is also associated with functions such as evaluating risks, planning ahead, and controlling our actions.”

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To help foment development of the prefrontal cortex and reduce FOMO, Ford teamed with Google and virtual reality studio Happy Finish to create the Ford Reality Check VR app, which demonstrates in realistic detail just how bad an idea it is to drive distracted.

In essence, Ford Reality Check uses Google Daydream VR to cast teens in the role of a distracted driver being deluged with calls, texts, and chatty passengers. This leads to a series of near collisions and, finally, a fatal crash. While it may seem moribund, it works: 90% of those who used the app say that they would change their driving behaviors based on their experience.

The VR app is being utilized at Ford Driving Skills for Life events across Europe, but it is expected to be made available for the wider public at some point through the Google Play store.

“Being involved in a car crash can be a life-changing experience—and sadly, for too many young people, one that cuts lives tragically short. We hope that by providing a chilling glimpse of how easily this could actually happen, we will encourage young people to drive more safely,” said Jim Graham, manager, Ford Driving Skills for Life.

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