Simulated Driver Training Cuts Thousands in Accident Expenses

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND COUNTY-- Thousands of dollars worth of expenses that could easily be avoided.

It's enough of a problem that Midland County is joining other counties using simulated training for their employees to cut back on that expense.

Inside a trailer that's 42 feet long, 8 feet high and just over 12 feet wide, county employees, including sheriff's deputies, can drive through any type of situation, in almost any type of vehicle or weather condition.  It's all controlled by Don Courtney, the Simulator Training Specialist for the Texas Association of Counties (TAC).

"A lot of them are scripted scenarios, where it's going to happen and so forth.  A lot things in there, I control, such as weather or vehicle malfunction.  They might be going 70 mph and have a blow out.  They have to learn how to control that.  That's some of the things the simulator can do," Courtney said.

The main goal is to get drivers to learn how to drive more defensively, saving the county money in the event of an accident.

According to Midland County Chief Deputy, Ed Krevit, "This training is free to participating counties.  They go all over the state providing this free training, not only in defensive driving, but in all areas concerning law enforcement and county employees in general, to help reduce liability to the county."

Krevit explains, it's also very beneficial to the Midland County Sheriff's Department, "Our deputies monthly, drive over 100,000 miles a month.  So, they spend a lot of time in their vehicles and we wanted to bring them as much training as we could to help reduce the liability to Midland County."

With the current simulators, drivers get as close to actually being on the open road as possible.  But, as this technology improves, the need for this type of training increases.  As the number of drivers goes up, the need to sharpen your skills does too.

"It helped to hone a lot of the skills that we take for granted.  Some of the tips they offered were really helpful.  It let us know some of the things that we need to watch out more for.  As a professional driver, it was really helpful," Midland County Employee, Rudy Subia, said.

With almost $400,000 worth of training equipment inside, when it comes to creating simulations, the possibilities are endless.  When it comes to the outcome, there is only one.

"That's the whole thing to hold those tax dollars down," Courtney said.

"It's about as close to reality as you can get rather than actually driving," Subia added.

"They will become better drivers, thereby reducing the liability to Midland County," Chief Krevit said.

About a dozen Midland County Sheriff's deputies took part in the training on Wednesday.  At an estimated cost of between $500 and $1,000 each, Chief Krevit says there's no way they could have done it, had it not been provided free of charge, through TAC.