Virtual reality (VR) headsets have been handed out to 11 police forces in time for Christmas. Officers involved in close pass operations in those areas will now be able to carry out roadside education of drivers using a close pass film produced by Cycling UK.
Earlier this year, Cycling UK raised over £17,000 for the Oculus Go headsets via a crowdfunding campaign. The charity needed £15,000 to supply one to all 45 police forces operating in the UK.
The educational film that accompanies them allows drivers to experience what it’s like to be closely passed by a car from a cyclist’s perspective. It then explains how to overtake cyclists safely. The extra funding will go towards ensuring the film seen as widely as possible.
The 11 forces that have been sent headsets are:
The remaining 34 forces will received their headsets in the New Year.
The film was trialled by West Midlands Police in October. One woman who was pulled over, who did not wish to give her name, said after her instruction: "That's changed my perspective – I'd never have thought to give cyclists that much room before."
One of the first to make use of the VR headset was PC Steve Hudson, of West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team.
He said: “At West Midlands Police RHRT, we’ve long seen the benefit of using VR film to help educate road users. Using Cycling UK’s new film on how to overtake cyclists safely we’re looking forward to helping more people understand not just how to overtake cyclists safely, but also why it’s so important.”
Keir Gallagher, Cycling UK’s Campaigns Officer said: “It’s the time for giving, so I’m glad we’ve helped Christmas come a little early for 11 forces. The support from the police and public has been really encouraging, and Cycling UK is keen get the rest of the headsets out to all our forces in the New Year.
“Cycling UK knows most people don’t deliberately set out to intimidate another road user when driving, but unless you cycle, you’re unlikely to realise how dangerous close passing can be. This film will allow those drivers to experience the threat from safety and will make our roads safer for everyone.”
Cycling UK has been campaigning for changes to Highway Code rules for many years. In October, the Government said that it would make changes to highlight the danger of motorists overtaking cyclists too closely.