Home > Press Room > City of Boston and Fundación MAPFRE Turn to Virtual Reality to Reduce Traffic Fatalities, Injuries

City of Boston and Fundación MAPFRE Turn to Virtual Reality to Reduce Traffic Fatalities, Injuries

BOSTON, September 18, 2019 – In a collaborative effort to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious crashes and collisions among pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists in Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Transportation Department have partnered with Fundación MAPFRE to launch an interactive public action campaign to reinforce critical road safety rules and encourage empathy among those sharing the streets of Boston.

The program, Look Both Ways, Boston, supports the City of Boston’s Vision Zero Boston program, which focuses on proven strategies to eliminate fatal and serious traffic crashes in the city by 2030 and urges those who use the city’s streets to look at every situation from the other person’s perspective. Fundación MAPFRE, a global nonprofit organization, has long championed initiatives that work to eliminate traffic fatalities around the world.

The initiative, which kicks off at City Hall Plaza on September 19 and 20, features a virtual reality (VR) experience in which users get behind the wheel to navigate three different scenarios that test their safe driving skills. In addition to measuring speed and adherence to traffic rules, the interactive experience uses eye-tracking technology to monitor distracted driving when confronted with increasingly complex driving situations. Following the event, Look Both Ways, Boston will bring the VR experience to college campuses and other locations across Massachusetts.

The event on City Hall Plaza also features several interactive exhibits to demonstrate critical safety issues such as truck blind spots to encourage people to trade places and experience how others see the road, whether on a bike, behind the wheel of a large truck, in a wheelchair, or crossing the street.

“Ensuring Boston’s streets are safe for all is the number one priority of the Boston Transportation Department,” said Mayor Walsh. “Through Boston’s Vision Zero plan, including initiatives such as the implementation of the Neighborhood Slow Streets Program, the incorporation of buffered bike lanes, and the adoption of updated traffic sign and signal technology, we will continue to utilize every resource to ensure to safety of Boston’s streets. I look forward to this partnership with Fundación MAPFRE and encourage residents to learn more about this campaign at Boston City Hall.”

“This public safety campaign will further the goals of Go Boston 2030, the city’s comprehensive transportation plan to ensure safe, reliable and equitable access to our streets for all users,” said Chris Osgood, City of Boston Chief of Streets. “An unprecedented public engagement process influenced the 58 projects and policies outlined in the plan and which Boston’s Transportation and Public Works Departments are making significant progress to implement. The new partnership with Fundación MAPFRE is another opportunity for people to get involved and to promote Go Boston 2030 improvements and, in particular, safe streets.”

“Road safety is one of the most critical issues we face as a society,” said Alfredo Castello, chief representative of Fundación MAPFRE in the United States. “We are proud to work with Mayor Walsh and Boston’s transportation team on this important initiative that supports our shared Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries and protecting those who use our roadways.”

According to a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Fundación MAPFRE, the most common cause of unintentional injury death among children 1-14 years of age (49 percent) was transportation-related, including children as passengers in cars, on motorcycles and bicycles, and as pedestrians. While the number of transportation-related deaths has been decreasing over time for all ages, they claimed the lives of 21,571 children ages 0-14 nationwide from 2005–2017.

The kickoff event also will include Boston Children’s Hospital’s Injury Prevention Program to provide guidance on car seat and bicycle safety; trucks and bicycles to demonstrate blind spots; and AGNES, a suit developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to demonstrate the physical challenges associated with aging.

Please click here for more information on Look Both Ways, Boston.