Screen shot courtesy of CarTech VR360 app.

Screen shot courtesy of CarTech VR360 app.

The National Safety Council and the University of Iowa have developed a virtual-reality mobile phone app designed to help drivers understand how new vehicle safety technologies work.

The app, CarTech VR360, gives drivers a 360-degree tour of some of today’s advanced driver assistance systems. The app is part of the MyCarDoesWhat initiative, which the National Safety Council and the University of Iowa launched in 2015 to explain new crash-avoidance technologies. A new survey from the National Safety Council found that 39% of drivers with new vehicle safety technologies say sometimes their vehicle acts in ways that scare or surprise them.

“This might be one of the few cell phone apps that help people be safer drivers,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Virtual reality is more engaging than any owner’s manual; we hope that people use the technology to discover all of the advanced driver assistance systems their vehicles have to offer.”

MyCarDoesWhat has endeavored to address all drivers — virtual reality is a novel medium sure to excite a new generation of road users,” said Daniel McGehee, the principal investigator of the MyCarDoesWhat project. McGehee is a professor in the University of Iowa’s college of engineering and director of the National Advanced Driving Simulator.

Fatal car crashes are on the rise, claiming as many as 40,000 lives in 2016, according to National Safety Council preliminary estimates. Technology can help prevent crashes, but drivers must understand these features and how they work to use them to their full potential.

The CarTech VR360 app, designed for both iOS and Android operating systems, is free to download and explains six features:

  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Back-up camera
  • Lane departure warning
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Drowsiness alert.

To learn how to download the app, click here.