Look Both Ways, the initiative launched by Fundación MAPFRE in Boston, in 2016, with the goal of saving lives on US highways, in addition to being a public service campaign, is an interactive experience.


As she moved around the brick walkway at the center of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) campus on a late October day, Allison Collard de Beaufort was in her element.

For the senior studying society, technology, and policy, the moment was a perfect blend of a college student socializing with her friends and an impassioned advocate advancing an important cause. As she talked about schoolwork and made plans with classmates making their way between classes, Collard de Beaufort encouraged them to stop to explore Fundación MAPFRE’s Look Both Ways Virtual Reality (VR) driving experience. Participants don the VR headset and strap into the cockpit of a virtual car to navigate through city streets and test their safe driving skills.

Nearby was a collection of tablet computers where users played React, a touchscreen video game developed by the foundation. In the game, the user avoided distractions while piloting both a bicycle and a car. Both interactive experiences delivered the same message: keep your eyes on the road and watch out for pedestrians and other vehicles.

“The students were immediately interested in the program and seemed eager to participate, even willing to wait in the cold for their turn on the VR experience,” Collard de Beaufort said. “I had friends reaching out to me throughout the day to make sure they’d have a chance to try out the game.”

A tragic total of 38,680 people died in 2020 as a result of traffic crashes, the highest toll since 2007. An around 2.7 million Americans sustain some sort of traffic injuries every year. Too many of these tragedies are the result of being distracted, going too fast and often not focused on the people with whom they share the road. The data is alarming and the stories are heartbreaking. The program’s mission hit close home for Collard de Beaufort, a global youth road safety advocate.

“I’m very passionate about road safety because I lost three of my friends and classmates to car crashes in separate incidents within a span of 15 months,” she said. “Terrifyingly, traffic violence is the leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24, both worldwide and in the United States.”

¡Mira a ambos lados!
Allison Collard de Beaufort, society, technology and policy student.

Her losses spurred Collard de Beaufort to launch Vision Zero Youth Council, a youthled organization that educates youth on traffic safety, empowers them to become vocal activists for safer streets, and engages them in working with local schools, nonprofits, and elected officials to reach their traffic safety goals.

Teenage drivers between the ages of 16-19 years old have a higher risk of getting into a car crash. In 2019, almost 2,400 of them were killed in car crashes in the United States and 260,000 suffered crash-related injuries.

Recognizing that young people are not only most adversely affected, but also the ones who can bring about real change, Fundación MAPFRE launched Look Both Ways in Boston in 2019 as part of its efforts to achieve Goal Zero globally. The event, held in Boston’s City Hall Plaza, generated exposure with more than 20,000 people. It engaged thousands who cared about safety and the impact on sustainability by making streets more friendly to pedestrians and bicycles.

“I’m sorry,” the pedestrian shouts.
“I’m sorry,” the driver responds.
“I shouldn’t have crossed,” the pedestrian says.
“I shouldn’t have been going so fast!”

The humorous take on a serious issue hits the most important note of the campaign. Let’s look out for each other.

The name Look Both Ways serves a double meaning. It encourages people to literally look left and right, regardless of how they’re getting around town, and to also look out not just for themselves, but also for the people with whom they share the road.

The pandemic forced the program to the sidelines in 2020 before it hit the road again in the fall of 2021, bringing original road safety inspired artwork and interactive games to college campuses and high schools in Massachusetts. WPI was the latest stop on a tour that also included places like the University of Massachusetts, Polar Park, the minor-league home for the Boston Red Sox, and the Topsfield Fairgrounds.

“Fundación MAPFRE is committed to educating and engaging Massachusetts citizens to improve road safety behaviors and ultimately reduce and eliminate road injuries and fatalities,” said Linda Johnson, officer in charge of relations with Fundación MAPFRE in the US. “Through a public service campaign and our interactive experiences, we are reaching out to young people and encouraging them to think about others with whom they share the road, and act with more awareness and empathy for fellow drivers, pedestrians and those using other modes of transportation, including bikes and scooters.”

The program visited Hingham High School near Boston in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital. A guest speaker talked to the students about her own experiences in making poor choices that led to a serious car crash. She was in a coma and had to learn to walk and talk again. The story was powerful for the students, who then used the immersive tablet experience to play the React challenge.

“Look Both Ways provided an engaging experience for our students that not only supported the learning objectives of our health course, but gave them an interactive format that they loved,” said Karen Beatty, health teacher at Hingham High. “The student feedback was really positive and we look forward to having the exhibit and presentation again.”

¡Mira a ambos lados!
Students with virtual reality glasses

To reach beyond the students at the events, the “Look Both Ways” story emerged as a public service campaign that included a TV commercial and billboards. Fundación MAPFRE partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to reach drivers across the region.

As a result, the PSA earned positive media coverage, garnering more than 4 million impressions, as well as positive engagement on social media. The entire program has brought Fundación MAPFRE’s Look Both Ways message to more than 12 million people across Massachusetts in 2021. Playing off the negative stereotype of ‘aggressive and rude’ Massachusetts drivers, the campaign flipped the script and encouraged people to be “aggressively nice” on the road. The PSA was launched in June to capitalize on the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and reports that traffic had returned to pre-pandemic levels in Massachusetts.

In a scene from the TV commercial, a pedestrian who rushes into the street and almost gets struck by a car yells at the driver. The driver yells back.