The costs of vehicle accidents can be high, not just economically, but personally as well.

According to a Texas Association of Counties press release, one out of every 100 pursuits results in death, while four out of every 10 results in a collision.

In an effort to reduce the number of collisions involving county drivers, the Texas Association of Counties is making available an innovative driving simulator. That simulator is in the midst of a visit to Ellis County, where county employees are taking a turn behind the wheel.

Sheriff Johnny Brown praised the program, saying it teaches do’s and don’ts relating to driving habits.

“It’s good practice and good training for our deputies along with the two-hour classroom instruction our deputies attended,” the sheriff said. “(The simulator) presents many scenarios concerning what could happen out on the street and highways and encourages the driver to avoid distractions while driving such as talking on the cell phone, reading the newspaper or eating a sandwich and drinking coffee.”

TAC’s driving simulator offers professional county drivers the opportunity to experience real-world driving conditions in a high-tech environment that replicates situations drivers may actually encounter while on the road. Studies have shown that driver-training programs effectively reduce risks while educating drivers on safe-driving measures.

“My goal is to use the driving simulator to reduce cost to the county by reducing collisions and injuries to county drivers,” said Don Courtney, driving simulator specialist with TAC.

“Drivers tend to slip into old habits behind the wheel,” Courtney said. “From the very beginning, I can tell whether they are used to driving with a seat belt on. I can tell if they steer the wheel one-handed or two-handed, whether they use their signals and mirrors.”

Since TAC launched its driving simulator in 2000, more than 6,000 county drivers in 225 Texas counties have used the simulator to enhance their ability to make life-saving, split-second decisions in often dangerous driving conditions.

The simulator has logged more than 60,000 miles traveling across the state and training drivers at no cost to the county.

For more information on the driving simulator and other services TAC provides to counties, visit www.county.org.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.