Wylie 3rd-graders took their annual trek to Safety City last month, where they learned all about street safety.
“Oh my gosh, I really love this place,” said 3rd-grader Lily Speights, after taking her turn driving a car through the city’s streets.
Safety City is a miniature city with roads, miniature buildings, working stoplights and even a working railroad crossing designed to provide an interactive way to teach children bicycle and pedestrian safety. The Abilene Police Department, the Abilene Fire Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety operate Safety City, and every 3rd-grader in Abilene – including every Wylie 3rd-grader – gets to experience it.
“It’s controlled chaos, but it gives the feel of a busy city for sure,” said Trooper Frederick Biddle who works at Safety City. “It’s a great experience for them.”
The students are divided into three groups. One group is pedestrians who walk through the city looking both ways as they cross the street. A second group rides bicycles through the streets and a third group drives cars around the city. All must obey traffic lights, use hand signals and do head checks (look both ways.) The groups then rotate until everyone has driven the cars.
Lily said the students spent time in their classes learning their hand signals before they arrived at Safety City. But she still had a little trouble manipulating her car through the city.
“I actually ran over a cone,” Lily said. “It got squashed.”
Classmate Giovanni Parra said he had a lot better luck.
“I didn’t crash,” he said. “I thought I was going to crash, but I didn’t.”
Giovanni said he learned a lot about being safe, and the cars, of course, were his favorite part.
“Everybody loves the cars,” he said. “It was great. It was really great.”
Also part of Safety City is a Fire House, where the students learn about keeping batteries in their smoke alarms and how to have an action plan in case of a fire. The Fire House fills with fake smoke and allows the kids to learn how to react.