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Tokyo VR simulation gives high-impact lesson on dangers of using phone while cycling

Two women use VR headsets to experience dangerous situations that could occur when looking at a smartphone while riding a bicycle, in the city of Musashino, Tokyo, on May 23, 2019. (Mainichi/Taketo Hayakawa)

TOKYO -- Virtual reality (VR) technology was used to warn participants about the dangers of using a smartphone while riding a bicycle, during an event to promote road safety at a driving school here on May 23.

Participants wore VR headsets at the Musashisakai driving school in the capital's suburban city of Musashino to experience dangerous situations, such as trying to avoid an accident when a pedestrian appeared right in front of them while they were on a bike and looking down at their smartphone.

The event was held by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Musashino Municipal Government in cooperation with telecommunications giant KDDI Corp. -- operator of the au mobile phone network -- as part of a bicycle safety campaign.

Looking at a smartphone while cycling reduces a person's field of vision to about one-third normal, according to KDDI. A 67-year-old housewife from the city who attended the event said, "I didn't have any time to avoid the pedestrian (in the VR simulation). I want to tell my family that using a smartphone while pedaling is dangerous."

(Japanese original by Taketo Hayakawa, Machida Resident Bureau)

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