Pedestrian Study: Project Plan & Methods

The recently funded CIHR funded research will reveal child pedestrian behaviours that elevate risk under different environmental and traffic conditions. Training protocols that target these risk behaviours and/or relevant underlying cognitive functions (e.g. attention distribution) will be developed for testing in the fully immersive virtual reality system; this implementation will require software development expertise, which will be garnered from hiring co-op students in Systems Design Engineering. These protocols will be refined through iterative pilot testing with children. Outcome evaluation studies will be conducted in the virtual reality environment to determine the success of these training programs and identify those that produce the most improvement in children’s street crossing practices. The co-op students will develop the more portable partly-immersive versions based on the most successful training programs.

The relative success of these training programs in the two different virtual reality contexts will be evaluated by comparing percentage improvement or change scores for the different pedestrian behaviours targeted (e.g. attention to traffic, crossing strategies, evasive actions taken) in each virtual reality context and applying statistical tests to determine if one virtual reality context yields greater improvement than the other, or if both are comparably effective. If the same results can be achieved by a partly-immersive virtual reality context as in the fully immersive context, the national distribution of these training systems to schools will be feasible because the technical requirement for implementing a non-fully immersive virtual reality system is minimal.

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