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    County Magazine Blog


    Blog | July 19, 2022

    Blog: Driving for safety

    County Magazine

    TAC Driving Simulator Consultant Don Courtney leads a county staff member through a driving simulator session at County Management & Risk Conference in April. (Credit: Billy Moore)

    Driver safety training may not sound enticing to some, but the appeal and success of TAC Risk Management Pool’s (TAC RMP) program is in the immersive video game experience of the simulator. It enhances and reinforces the classroom training participants also receive. Smith County personnel, who recently participated in the training, summed it up: It’s fun.

    “It’s very popular,” TAC Law Enforcement and Simulator Consultants Supervisor Thomas Kerss said. “Requests far outnumber the number of counties we can visit each year.”

    The mobile simulator unit is a 20-foot high-tech trailer that simulates the experience of driving ambulances, patrol cars or heavy machinery — the kinds of vehicles that county personnel use every day. The console includes the driver’s seat, steering wheel, pedals and controls of a real vehicle, but large computer monitors simulate the front windshield and driver- and passenger-side front windows.

    “It’s 220 degrees of peripheral vision we can simulate,” TAC Driving Simulator Consultant Don Courtney said, “and hundreds of driving scenarios that participants can practice.”

    Courtney travels the state with the simulator. He has held his current position since joining TAC in 2005, following a successful career in the Eastland County Sheriff’s Office. He just wrapped up several weeks of training in Risk Management Services’ northeast region, with engagements in Bell, Rockwall, Kaufman and Smith counties. About 300 county employees completed the training that includes a classroom course and simulated practice.

    The program is available exclusively to TAC RMP member counties that participate in Workers’ Compensation, Auto or Law Enforcement Liability programs, and there is no additional cost to the county for the training. Risk Management Services staff members prioritize requests for the simulator based on several factors, including claims history, the length of time since the simulator last visited the area, and the simulator’s schedule. They rotate the simulator between the four Risk Management Services regions.

    Ultimately, the benefit of the training is to help county personnel avoid crashes that result in injuries or property damage. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners published research in 2019 that concluded that driving simulator training for law enforcement personnel was effective in reducing accident frequency, with a return on investment of 12 to 1. That’s data TAC and counties can get excited about.

    “It’s about reducing costs and increasing public safety,” Courtney said. “That’s why we do it.”

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    Written by: Erica Macioge