Toyota Puts the Vroom in Safety Education Program Aimed at Putting Kids in the Driver's Seat

March 08, 2016
Lexington, Ky., March 8, 2016 -- Driving habits, good or bad, begin to form long before a driver can reach the gas pedal and as early as when a child’s car seat is turned to face front. So, to learn what it means to be a safe driver, passenger and pedestrian, Kentucky tots are taking the wheel. 

Safety City, a free, safety education program for second and third graders, combines classroom instruction with student driving experiences that simulate the real world. Toyota is helping power the program with a $49,000 donation toward the purchase of ten kid-sized electric cars. The new cars will replace an aging fleet that dates back to Safety City’s inception in 1990.  

“Early education is critical,” said Lisa Conley, Safety City’s executive director. “The purchase of these cars allows us to continue to give young students a meaningful, hands-on experience to help them develop a foundation of safe habits that will be so important in the future.”

Safety City is a partnership between Eastern Kentucky University and the Lexington Police Department, serving more than 2,000 local students each school year. By offering classes on topics like Traffic and Pedestrian Safety and Seatbelt Use, students who complete the program are equipped with knowledge to help them be safer in their community, today and tomorrow.

“Two of EKU’s signature programs are public safety and education, making Safety City a natural partnership for the University,” said Dr. Michael Benson, president, Eastern Kentucky University. “We are honored to have a role in educating the police officers who patrol our streets, and we also take great pride in joining the effort to teach future drivers the rules of the road.”  

For Toyota, supporting Safety City is second nature. “We believe everyone deserves to be safe, and we want to be a part of helping keep people safe, on and off the road,” said Wil James, president of Toyota’s Kentucky plant.  “That’s a priority for us, and it’s why we’re investing in programs like Safety City.”

"So many children have grown up with fond memories of Safety City. The program helps build a positive connection between the community, officers, and the work we do as an agency," said Chief Mark Barnard, Lexington Police. "Toyota's investment in Safety City will go a long way in creating lasting experiences that will stick with students for years to come."

“There’s nothing more important than keeping our children safe,” said Mayor Jim Gray, Lexington. “Safety City makes learning about traffic safety fun. We thank Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University and Lexington Police for making it possible.”

Safety City is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday, by appointment only, and is located at 1160 Red Mile Place in Lexington, KY. To schedule a trip, visit http://safetycity.eku.edu/scheduling-your-visit.

Toyota’s investment in Safety City reflects a broader commitment to advancing automotive safety in Kentucky and across North America.  By supporting programs like Alive at 25, a partnership with Kentucky State Police and the National Safety Council, developing comprehensive initiatives like Toyota TeenDrive365 (www.TeenDrive365.com) to inspire parents and teens to be safe drivers together, and working to develop and share life-saving technologies through Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Toyota is working across the map to benefit everyone on the road. 

For more information on Toyota’s safety initiatives, visit http://www.toyota.com/usa/safety.
 
About Toyota Kentucky
Toyota (NYSE:TM), the world's top automaker and creator of the Prius and the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands.  Over the past 50 years, we’ve built more than 30 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 44,000 people (more than 34,000 in the U.S.).  Our 1,800 North American dealerships (1,500 in the U.S.) sold more than 2.8 million cars and trucks (nearly 2.5 million in the U.S.) in 2015 – and about 80 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 20 years are still on the road today.  

Toyota partners with philanthropic organizations across the country, with a focus on education, safety and the environment.  As part of this commitment, we share the company’s extensive know-how garnered from building great cars and trucks to help community organizations and other nonprofits expand their ability to do good. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) is Toyota’s largest vehicle manufacturing plant in the world (based on capacity), with more than 10 million vehicles rolling off Toyota’s assembly line in Georgetown since 1988. TMMK’s investment tops $6 billion, while full-time employment is around 7,700. In addition to the Camry, America’s best-selling car, TMMK manufactures the Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Venza, and Lexus ES 350, as well as four-cylinder and V-6 engines.
 
Media Contacts
Rick Hesterberg (859) 351-4780
Ashley Brauer (502) 649-3205
 
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Second grader McKenzie Hutchinson transforms from pint-sized passenger to determined driver as she maneuvers through an intersection at Safety City in Lexington, Ky.
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