Deputies test skills with driving simulator -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Deputies test skills with driving simulator

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Smith County Sheriffs spent Thursday practicing how to react to unexpected driving situations.

The deputies got a change of scenery from behind the wheel of a driving simulator.

"This gives them a chance to do something that is as close to real life as they can," said Don Courtney, driving simulator specialist with Texas Association of Counties.

The simulator allows deputies to practice for pursuits and perfect their defensive driving skills.

The operator can do just about anything to test drivers, like change the weather or cause tire blow outs.

Simulators like the one brought to Tyler can cost around $300,000.

Still, The Smith County Sheriff's Office says the lessons it provides deputies are priceless.

"On something like this, if they make a mistake we can go back and they can actually see the mistake no fine, no harm," said Smith County Chief Deputy Bobby Garmon.

Deputies go through a two-hour class before taking the drivers seat. 

Courtney then grades them on their simulated drive and can play back the video to show any mistakes.

There is more behind the training than just tests though.

"Safety to me is the main thing. I want to make sure they go home to their families at the end of the night," Courtney said.

Smith County deputies have used this simulator before.

Chief Deputy Garmon says it won't be the last time the simulator is in Tyler because deputies can never have too much training.

TAC says the simulator reduces cost to the county by limiting the number of collisions and injuries to county drivers.

Thursday's training was free for the Smith County Sheriff's Office.

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