The Texas Association of Counties (TAC) takes trips all around the state helping law enforcement officials improve their skills behind the wheel using a driving simulator, and was at the Erath County Sheriff’s Office Thursday.

“We had this several years ago and it just makes you aware of your driving habits; good and bad,” said Sgt. Jeremy Woodruff. “It just makes us safer when we’re out there in the public.”

The TAC helps reduce risks when law enforcement officials face hazards on the road.

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

The simulator, launched in 2000, creates real-world driving conditions in a high-tech environment and has traveled more than 200,000 miles across the state to train drivers at no cost to the counties.

“Studies have shown that driver-training programs effectively reduce risks while educating drivers on safe-driving measures,” Courtney said. “Even professional drivers can slip into bad habits behind the wheel. The simulator training reinforces good driving habits that help improve employee safety and make them better prepared for the unexpected.”

E-T News Editor Autumn Owens got to take the simulator for a spin and was put in hot pursuit of a stolen vehicle.

“You had to maneuver through intersections and make sure you didn’t hit any vehicles or pedestrians along with keeping an eye on the suspect and giving information to dispatch. It was quite the experience,” Owens said. “I didn’t realize how much law enforcement officials have to think about in a situation like this.”

Video of Owens’ simulation can be found on the E-T’s website at www.yourstephenvilletx.com.