Oculus Rift Toyota app
The Oculus Rift gives a 36-degree simulation of what it's like to be distracted while drivingToyota

The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is being used by Toyota to highlight the dangers of driving while distracted by your phone and passengers.

Demonstrated to visitors of the Detroit Auto Show this week, a simulator shows what it's like to be distracted by traffic noise, the radio, text messages sent to the driver's phone, and friends in the passenger seats.

Hooked up to the cabin of a real car at the show, the Oculus Rift is a new addition to Toyota's TeenDrive 365 initiative, which aims to improve the attention of young drivers who are most likely to be distracted by their phones and passengers.

Oculus Rift provides a virtual reality driving experience that mirrors real life behind the wheel, giving us a powerful, one-of-a-kind way to show parents and teens how everyday distractions can affect their ability to drive safely," said Marjorie Schussel, corporate marketing director for Toyota.

The headset beams a 3D image of the car's cabin and surrounding environment into the wearer's eyes, responds to head and body movements in any direction, and has 3D sound which accurately mimics the location of nearby traffic and passengers.

Oculus VR, maker of the Rift headset, was bought by Facebook last year for $2 billion (£1.3bn), as virtual reality is set to be adopted by a wide range of industries. The headsets can be used to view cars in showrooms before they are produced, apartments before they are constructed, and the benefits of new shop layouts before anything is moved.

They can also act as simulators - both for driving as demonstrated by Toyota, but also for teaching airline pilots where the controls are; Virgin Atlantic has already shown interest in using the Samsung Gear VR, which uses technology borrowed from the Rift, to keep pilots' knowledge up to date.

Toyota plans to take the headset to other car shows throughout 2015 to help promote safer driving. Meanwhile, Oculus is hoping to launch its first consumer version of the Rift - currently only sold to developers - by the end of 2015.