News & Stories

Boys & Girls Clubs of Austin using VR technology to enhance safe driving for teens

May 4, 2022

The number of people hurt or killed in car crashes in Austin continues to climb after recent car crashes. A new local program is aiming to teach teenagers safe driving techniques to avoid any future deadly crashes through virtual reality technology.

Getting behind the wheel of a car can be stressful especially when teenagers are just starting out, but it’s also exciting for a chance at a little bit of freedom.

“That’s going to be a relief. I don’t have to ask anybody for a ride anymore,” UPS teen ambassador Jarrell Burditt said.

Burditt is one of the teen ambassadors for the UPS Road Code Program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Austin where teenagers are learning essential driving skills with VR technology.

“As a kid, it’s more exciting. It catches our attention more,” Burditt said.

The technology puts teens in the driver’s seat that takes student drivers through simulations to teach ways they can stay safe while handling unexpected situations.

“A lot of our kids don’t really get the driver’s education that they need. They don’t do it much through schools anymore and so at the Boys & Girls Club we think it’s very important that we can get them to learn safe driving at an early age,” Director of Club Operations Jenn Barnes said.

It’s a scary thought for parents when their children get behind the wheel that’s why the program is building safe driving habits for teenagers ages 13-18.

“Whether they go through our program or not I think it’s a little scary,” Barnes said.

The City of Austin is on pace to surpass the number of traffic deaths and serious injuries since 2021. Since the end of March, Austin Police have been called to 23 deadly crashes that killed 24 people. According to APD, 24 people were killed in crashes at this time in 2021.

Burditt is hopeful that starting teens young will drive change on Austin’s roads.

“That can be any one of us or that can be anyone of my family members,” he said.

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