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Simulator is too real for most to stomach
by Gary Kent
Apr 08, 2014 | 58 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
County Commissioner Dennis DeWitt reacts to a situation on a patrol car simulator Tuesday morning at the Bee County Expo Center. DeWitt and other county officials were on hand to experience the Texas Association of County’s driving simulator. Anyone who drives a vehicle for Bee County will be required to qualify in a variety of situations in either a patrol car or semi-truck simulator sometime in the next two weeks.

Gary Kent photo
County Commissioner Dennis DeWitt reacts to a situation on a patrol car simulator Tuesday morning at the Bee County Expo Center. DeWitt and other county officials were on hand to experience the Texas Association of County’s driving simulator. Anyone who drives a vehicle for Bee County will be required to qualify in a variety of situations in either a patrol car or semi-truck simulator sometime in the next two weeks. Gary Kent photo
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BEEVILLE – Deputies who showed up for simulator training at the Bee County Expo Center Tuesday morning ended up wishing they had taken something for motion sickness.

The simulators for both the patrol car and the 18-wheeler simulator cabs were a little too real at times for county employees.

Don Courtney, simulator and training specialist for the Texas Association of Counties in San Antonio, said the reaction is normal.

Courtney said he will be in Beeville this week and next to take anyone who operates a motor vehicle for the county through simulator exercises.

The program is intended to test defensive driving and other skills for county employees.

Most of the drivers who showed up for the training Tuesday were put on the patrol car simulator.

The contraption had everything a regular patrol car has, including the radio, emergency lights and a computer.

Each simulator student was allowed to take a short run behind the wheel to become familiar with the equipment. All of them found that keeping the simulator on the pavement and in its proper lane could be a challenge.

But after a short drive each deputy elected to sit it out for a few minutes to ease their stomachs before taking the test for defensive driving and driving during a high-speed pursuit.

There was just something about being surrounded by three large television screens and feeling the motion of the simulator as the vehicle struck curbs and took corners.

“You can really feel the tires gripping the road,” Sheriff Carlos Carrizales Jr. said as he hit the gas pedal and took off down the imaginary street.

Courtney had some of the drivers intentionally drive into a curb to feel the impact on the steering wheel during the practice session.

County Judge David Silva stepped up to watch Deputy Investigator Delilah Pier as she climbed behind the wheel of the 18-wheeler simulator.

She ended up in a ditch on the right side of the highway and was unable to get the vehicle back on the pavement. The seat she was sitting in leaned over to the right as she abandoned the simulator and walked over to complete her patrol car simulator requirements.

County Commissioners Dennis DeWitt and Carlos Salazar came during the morning to try their hands at operating the simulators.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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