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TD Magazine

Playing It Safe

New research shows the value of advanced simulations for safety training.

Cyclists in London, England, famous for feuding with the city's motorists, now have at least a few more drivers who understand their point of view. After more than 35 drivers for the delivery company Hermes participated in a virtual reality simulation that enabled them to see the world from a cyclist's point of view, 88 percent agreed that the experience encouraged them to change their behavior on the road. That's according to Ford Europe, which offered the experience as part of its Share the Road program.

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The collaboration between Hermes and Ford is just one example of how VR simulations have emerged in the logistics industry. UPS provides another: The company uses VR simulations to train delivery drivers in the US and Europe. Drivers must practice verbally identifying road hazards in the simulation before advancing to more intensive on-road training.

New research suggests that the usefulness of VR simulations and their cousins, augmented reality simulations, for safety training may extend further. The upcoming Association for Talent Development research report Safety Training: Protecting Employees and Organizations finds that among the 75 percent of organizations that incorporate some type of simulations into their safety training regimens, 27 percent do so by using those advanced technologies. Analyses show that VR or AR simulations used in safety training courses have a statistically significant association with individuals' better safety performance.

Safety Training: Protecting Employees and Organizations report

Other research corroborates the value of VR simulations for safety training. Nottingham University's 2019 report, Immersive Virtual Worlds: Multisensory Virtual Environments for Health and Safety Training, features an experiment that compares how well employees who trained with VR and those who trained with PowerPoint recalled information about how to stay safe in fire and fuel-leak situations. Individuals trained with VR exhibited better long-term knowledge retention and higher levels of engagement with the training course than those who trained with PowerPoint. That was especially true for one subset of the VR group that experienced the simulation in a multisensory environment with additional heat and smoke scents to better replicate the situations.

About the Author

Alex Moore is a junior research analyst for the Association for Talent Development. Alex returned to ATD in 2019 after spending a year living and working in Chile. Prior to moving abroad, Alex was a writer/editor for ATD working on TD magazine, a research coordinator at ATD, and a customer care advocate at ATD. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015 with a B.A. in English.

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