On Wednesday this week, I had the privilege of attending the Tiny Towne media morning in Norcross. Despite Tiny Towne being only 3 minutes from my Grandmother’s house, I had never heard of it! I was eager to check it out and find out what new adventures were waiting. I was prepared for a fun play area where my kids could drive cars, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that Tiny Towne offers much, much more than that.
Tiny Towne‘s designer, Pierre, came to the United States as an adult in the 80s. He set immediately to learning the laws of the road and getting a driver’s license. Since then, he has continued researching statistics of crashes and finding out how we can make the roads safer. Pierre’s thought in 2009 to create Tiny Towne was based on the idea that if we start kids out driving as young as possible, they will be safer drivers in the future when they get to the real road. Let’s face it. Most kids have never been behind a wheel until they are 15-16 and starting the process of getting their driver’s license. Why wait until they are a teen to start driving?
At Tiny Towne, kids as young as 1-3 can begin driving. Tiny Towne offers a game room ride that features an actual screen so little ones can watch themselves as they drive and practice staying on the road before they ever get in an actual car.
Beginning at age 3, young drivers can venture out to the Tiny Track, where they start by learning to always put their seatbelt on when they are in the car. They can then drive the smallest cars around the track. Eager assistants are waiting and ready to assist a child if they get stuck trying to make a turn. These cars have a steering wheel and a gas pedal that is pushed by the child.
At age 6, they can move on up to the booster cars, which are a little bit bigger than the younger cars. They are on the same track as the littlest drivers but go a bit faster and they also have the steering and gas pedal for the child.
To be promoted to the senior level and get access to the advanced Traffic Track, drivers must be at least 9 years old, 57″ tall, and pass Traffic Test 101 and a simulator test. At the completion of the tests, drivers will receive access to the Tiny Towne Smart Cars used on the advanced track. The advanced Traffic Track for senior drivers consists of road signs, two-way streets, and cops who will ensure that drivers are practicing the safety rules and guidelines they learned in the classroom.
I know all about the cops and how well they patrol. I got my very first ticket at Tiny Towne. There is an area where 2 lanes go down to 1 and I didn’t signal. Oops! The cops were right on my tail in moments.
The ticket concept is pretty interesting. Using a tablet, the officer is able to get the license number and suspend your car’s driving ability for a few minutes depending on your violation. In my case, I was suspended for 2 minutes. We had to sit in the same spot for that long and watch the timer go down before we could move. The cars also all run on a smart app that judges your driving. If you are driving dangerously, it slows your car down. As you show that you are a safe driver, it lets you pick up more speed. If you are caught texting or using your phone on the road, you completely lose your license and aren’t able to drive. In order to get your license back, you have to see the “judge” to make sure that you understand how dangerous it is. The concept of learning plus violations in a safe environment was all the idea of Tiny Towne’s designer, Pierre.
Tiny Towne offers an education center as well with interactive computers, where the family can learn the rules of the road and take tests. The future holds the ability to get a Tiny Towne license based on a test that he plans on being much harder than the current Georgia driving test.
If you come out to Tiny Towne, plan on being there for a while. There is even a food court with snacks and meals. I was expecting the food to be typical game room food, but it’s much better at Tiny Towne. I enjoyed a salad with grilled chicken and my kids had plenty of options including fresh fruit, hummus, and more. We were very pleased with the food quality.
The most enjoyable part of Tiny Towne for me, was that the employees all really seem to love their job! Everyone was happy and eager to help and actually taught the kids about the road. They want the kids to learn to be safe drivers and are doing a great job at it.
Tiny Towne is a great way for kids to learn the rules of the road or even for adults that have never driven before to get comfortable in a safe environment. I know we definitely will be returning, especially as my kids get closer to driving age.
For more information visit TinyTowne.com.