You can tell people that distracted driving is bad and make laws preventing it, but that won’t necessarily make the dangers sink in. Toyota thinks it has a way to convey the risks to impressionable minds, however. Its new TeenDrive365 education initiative includes an Oculus Rift-powered virtual reality simulator that challenges both teens and parents to keep their eyes on the road despite a horde of distractions, ranging from text messages to talkative friends in the back seats. As you’d guess, the VR is meant to produce a more realistic experience — it’s more tempting to look down at your imaginary phone than it would be if you were staring at a regular screen.
The simulator will be free to try at all of the TeenDrive365 tour destinations in the US, starting with one in Boston at the New England International Auto Show, which starts on January 15th. Other stops (10 in total, so far) include major cities like Chicago, Dallas, New York and Washington DC. Whether or not you think Toyota’s tech will improve the ability of you or your kids to focus when behind the wheel, it probably won’t hurt to give the experience a shot.