Virtual Reality Implementation for Public Engagement: Display 1—Work Zone Safety

Project Details



18-658, ST-006






Iowa Department of Transportation

Principal Investigator
Nir Keren

About the research

Statistics on roadway safety indicate that 48% of the 35,092 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2015 did not wear seat belts. It is estimated that wearing a seat belt in a passenger vehicle reduces the likelihood of fatal injury by 45% and for moderate-to-critical injury by 50%. Yet, approximately 28 million people do not wear seatbelts.

When it comes to work zones, 22,276 people were injured and 700 people were killed in 2015. The enormity of this loss of life is almost impossible to comprehend. Transportation related organizations invest significant resources to collect and analyze data on these phenomena and then develop and implement public awareness campaigns in order to drastically reduce the magnitude of these losses. However, enhancing public awareness and acquiring public understanding and support for changes in transportation-related policies or to the introduction of new infrastructure projects is challenging.

Most common measures to enhance awareness and gain public feedback are presenting proposed changes and the intended infrastructure in public hearings and collecting public perceptions through surveys. More advanced efforts include presenting various forms of media (e.g., videos), which allow the public to gain a glimpse into “how things will look like.” However, these measures will usually fall short in conveying messages beyond simply visualizing the topic under discussion.

Recent advancements in virtual reality (VR) technology and computational capacity provide a unique opportunity to expose the public to information in ways that allow them to interact with the items under discussion and observe the implication of the interaction firsthand. Thus, collecting data from the public following interaction with VR technologies that introduce experience in fully immersive, full-scale, 3D environment may yield high utility.

This research will pursue the development and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the following two virtual reality interactive displays:

  1. Work Zone Safety Demonstration
  2. ‘Make the Connection’ through Seat Belt Demonstration