WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. - Washington County, Virginia sheriff's deputies are getting a different kind of training that will help them become better drivers without hitting the roads.
Look through the headset and you'll feel like you're driving down any normal street, but it's far from it. Washington County, Virginia deputies are getting real-life experiences through a simulator on how to handle high-tension situations. "This is the first time I've ever driven in a simulator situation like this, so it was new, but I think it was educational," says Sgt. Gordon Taylor.
Taylor is one of many deputies that got to experience different situations, like an officer down or an armed robbery in progress. "Just because you're running an emergency call, it doesn't mean everybody stops what they're doing to accommodate you. You have to be not only for your actions but you've got to be responsible for those actions around you," adds Taylor.
The simulator works like this -- officers get in the car, put on the goggles, and drive like it was a real-life scenario. "It utilizes three sensors: one for the steering, one for the brake, and one for the gas. You get in and drive it like you would a normal car," says VA-CORP Risk Management Director Jim McClellan.
The simulator was brought to the department from a Virginia insurance company and it's free training for the officers. "It gets them talking, and any time they talk about safe driving that's a positive thing, not only for the officers but also for the public as well," adds McClellan.
The deputies also took classes on defensive driving with the program. Sgt. Taylor tells us the simulator was fun, but he took something from it he'll use to protect the public. "High risk high tension situation that we don't forget to think and we don't let our emotions over take our skills and our training," says Taylor.
The driving simulator is accredited through the state, so deputies receive credit for the training.
We also learned the police academy in Bristol, Virginia is thinking about using it as training for the new officers.