Ford uses Virtual Reality to get LGV drivers on their bikes

27 November 2018

Ford Motor Company’s Transport Operations team, which is responsible for the movement of vehicles and parts, has partnered with the London Cycling campaign to bring to life a Virtual Reality experience that allows truck drivers and cyclists to swap places.

The company’s ‘WheelSwap’ VR experience is part of Ford’s ‘Share The Road’ campaign and allows drivers to experience a journey from a cyclist’s perspective, and vice versa.

Nationally, 16 percent of cyclist road deaths involve Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs). While 75 percent of LGV mileage is on non-built up roads, over the past three years trucks have been involved in 70 percent of cyclist fatalities in London, despite making up only four percent of the capital’s road miles.

Tom Bogdanowicz, Senior Policy and Development Officer at the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), swapped perspectives with three drivers and driver trainers from the Ford Transport Operations team. In the LGV, the conversation focused on the vision of the driver – and situations where a cyclist is and is not visible to the driver, keeping the appropriate two-metre distance when passing a cyclist and ensuring LGV drivers do not enter ‘bike boxes’.

When cycling, the focus turned to road position, and understanding why cyclists may be riding centrally in the road to avoid potholes or car doors, particularly on narrow streets.

“Having a change of perspectives was certainly insightful “said Andrew Main, driver trainer at Ford Transport Operations team and DVSA instructor. “A greater understanding of the reasons behind cyclists’ actions is very helpful for an LGV driver as we decide on how to approach certain situations.”

Ford and its Transport Operations team will be taking these messages into local schools during Road Safety Week with the WheelSwap VR experience and a static LGV activity.

“Empathising with and understanding the actions of other road users is extremely important to increase road safety,” said John Oldham, European Ford Transport Operations Manager. “The WheelSwap activity certainly helps to achieve that and I think we’ve taken positive lessons away from it.”