SGI is targeting dangerous driving with a new virtual reality simulator.
Headphones and goggles create an unsettling, isolating experience as you make your own choices as a driver or passenger – for better or for worse.
“It can be quite a helpless feeling when you’re heading towards an intersection and driver is not doing anything to stop as you’re heading towards another vehicle,” SGI’s manager of media relations, Tyler McMurchy said.
At the end of each scenario, you may find yourself on the wrong end of a field sobriety test, in a courtroom, or in a hospital with a first-hand view of the damage to yourself and others.
When the Global News crew took the simulator for a spin, an intoxicated driver blew a red light and struck an oncoming car, paralyzing the passenger and seriously injuring a pregnant woman.
When it comes to impaired driving, SGI says the simulator breaks new ground focusing on the effects of cannabis, rather than alcohol.
“You see he’s slowing down, speeding up, cars are passing, he has delayed response time, things like that,” SGI’s community relations co-ordinator Toni-Tiara Rapley explained.
Impaired driving is still the leading cause of death on Saskatchewan roads.
In 2016, 57 people were killed and 464 were injured in collisions involving alcohol or drugs.
SGI hopes to target high schools with the simulator with graduation season around the corner.
“We know there’s going to be lots of grads, lots of parties. People will be celebrating, and rightfully so,” McMurchy added. “Keep in mind that if your celebrations involve alcohol or the consumption of any drugs, you need to plan a safe ride home.”
The simulator has been introduced to one high school so far, with more visits planned.
Rapley says many students were joking with their friends as the experience began, but the mood quickly changed as the simulation went on.
“There was one student who hit a deer, another that got pulled over by the police. All these consequences can take place, and you saw the mood shift.”
She hopes to remind people you can leave the goggles and headsets behind – but in the real world, you can’t walk away from the consequences of impaired driving.