Safety Town updates vehicles, students get to test drive

Children test out new cars at Safety Town while learning the rules of traffic safety.

Sadie Helmick

Children test out new cars at Safety Town while learning the rules of traffic safety.

Anyone who grew up in Huntington, or has watched the McElroy brothers series “My Bother, My Brother and Me,” is familiar with a little place known as Safety Town. For years, Safety Town has hosted second grade students from the community in an effort to teach kids about traffic safety, fire safety and other applicable real world emergency strategies.

One of the most memorable features of Safety Town is its replica town, complete with a miniature bank and Speedway. Kids are able to drive cars and and learn traffic laws, and this roadway system just got a whole new upgrade.

Recently, with about a $17,000 donation from the Highway Safety Foundation and Redmen Bingo, Safety Town was able to gain eight brand new cars, priced at $1,700 each. The cars are a big upgrade from the past vehicles, with brakes and all.

“We have a brake now,” Safety Town Coordinator Vernon Casey said. “The old cars didn’t have a brake. You kind of had to let them roll to a stop or until they ran into something to stop.”

While the cars are a hit for kids, Casey emphasized that the opportunity to drive along the fake town is not the main point of Safety Town

“There’s a misconception that we’re teaching children how to drive,” Casey said. “We’re not. That’s the carrot to get them through the boring stuff — the seat belt safeties, the bicycle helmet safeties, the fire safety.”

Cabell County Schools Superintendent Bill Smith was present at the Safety Town Media Day, to watch students from Kellog Elementary try their luck at the wheel.

“Kids never forget this,” Smith said, “and they get a chance to really talk about almost real-world situations here at Safety Town.”

For Vernon Casey, he has seen first hand the nostalgic power that Safety Town has on the community, with people honking in support as they drive by.

“It’s important, but it’s like an underlying importance,” Casey said. “Everyone in town has a Safety Town story.”

Safety Town plans for more renovations in the future, with plans to redo the buildings with other sponsorships coming in.

Franklin Norton can be contacted at [email protected]