City replica wants drivers to learn early

Q: I caught the end of a tv commercial about driving. I think it was in a small town. Can you help me out?

A: The commercial you saw was about Tiny Towne in Norcross. This is an indoor entertainment facility designed for driving.

Getting behind the wheel is a serious business, but Tiny Towne has combined fun with learning to drive. Toddlers (ages 1-2) that can sit in the car can act like they are driving by controlling the wheel. Children between 3-15 have the opportunity to “drive” on realistic streets, while learning rules of the road.

“If you start at the age of 10, you will experience a lot over 5 years,” Pierre Maalouf, founder and CEO of Tiny Towne, said. “They actually learn more than say the 15-year-olds who think they know everything.”

Tiny Towne is a replica of the way cities are built - with streets, road markings, street signs, traffic signals, stores, police and a train.

Each driver creates their own customized TT driver’s license that includes their photo they wear around their neck.

Kids between 3 to 6 get to drive in a vehicle on what is known as the Tiny Track, which is safely surrounded by a fence. Seatbelt safety and learning about the mechanics of driving are the goals.

Moving up to a bit bigger cars (boosters), drivers at age 6 can head down a two-lane road in one direction.

To advance to the senior level, you must be 57” tall or 9 years old and pass two tests. “Both the ‘Traffic 101’ test and simulator test must be passed at 100%, Maalouf said. “We have set a higher standard than the DMV. Very few pass it [Traffic 101] the first time and usually takes 3-4 times.”

There are penalities and reinforcements to encourage safe driving.

“Tiny Towne is now a driving school approved by the state of Georgia,” Maalouf said. “Our three-month program of 30 hours provides training more extensive than many driving schools. If using our program, one’s safety driving points accummulate and can be used towards the fee for the class. There are also scholarships available for those financially unable to cover the cost.

Tiny Towne is located in the Indian Village Shopping Center at 2055 Beaver Ruin Road, Norcross (470-545-7227)

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