Lynden, Wash.-based Snapper Shuler Kenner Insurance (SSK Insurance), an independent insurance agency with offices in Lynden and Bellingham, Wash., has launched SSK Drive-Safe, a free simulator driver training program for novice drivers that helps develop basic and defensive driving skills. The new program will be tracked by project sponsors Safeco Insurance and Mutual of Enumclaw, who will enact new simulator driver training discounts pending a reduction in teen driving accidents.
Paul Kenner, president of Snapper Shuler Kenner Insurance, invested more than$100,000 in a L3 PatrolSim driving simulation machine — the same technology used by military, police, fire and emergency personnel as well as professional CDL drivers in the heavy trucking industry. The training program was customized for the novice driver, and presents difficult driving situations that give students the opportunity to experience realistic “what if” scenarios from the front seat of a driving simulator. Teens will experience hundreds of different virtual driving scenarios, including handling snow and ice, avoiding head-on collisions, skid control, blow-out control and corrective steering.
“SSK Drive-‐Safe provides new drivers with a safe and effective way to learn from their inevitable mistakes,” said Kenner. A father of four, Kenner has felt the anxiety that parents experience when watching their 16-year-old drive off for the first time. And, as a 35-year veteran of the insurance industry, he also sees first-‐hand how many accidents could be avoided if teen drivers knew the appropriate defensive driving skill.
“On more than one occasion, I’ve given my ‘drive safe’ talk to a 16-‐year-old in my office, only to have them get in an accident within the first few weeks of driving,” Kenner said. “Lecturing young drivers is only effective to a point. It’s the hours spent behind the wheel practicing that really makes the difference.”
Kenner hopes that the driving simulator program keeps the community safer. “We want to reduce the number of teen driving accidents in our community,” he said.
On a national scale, 55 percent of 16-year-olds get in an accident within their first year of driving. Safeco Insurance and Mutual of Enumclaw, two insurance companies that SSK Insurance represents, have taken notice. “If successful in our efforts, we have interest from these companies in providing a potential ‘Driving Simulator’ discount similar to a Good Student discount to reduce the premiums for teens that undergo this training,” Kenner said.
Snapper Shuler Kenner Insurance developed SSK Drive-Safe as a free service for its auto insurance clients, but will also open it up to the community through Exceleration Driving School located in Bellingham and Lynden. Seminar sessions last two hours.
Established in 1925, SSK Insurance is an independent insurance agency in northwest Washington, and offers the entire scope of insurance products including commercial, personal and medical.
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