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Snellville hosts Public Safety Night

One of the big demonstrations of the night was the University of Georgia’s Vehicle Rollover Simulator. The simulator puts child- and adult-like dummies into a truck and simulates what would happen if both weren’t wearing seatbelts and it was in a crash. At a simulated speed of 35 mph, and with the truck rolling, both dummies fell out of the car after two or three turns each time. (Photo: Chris Stephens)

One of the big demonstrations of the night was the University of Georgia’s Vehicle Rollover Simulator. The simulator puts child- and adult-like dummies into a truck and simulates what would happen if both weren’t wearing seatbelts and it was in a crash. At a simulated speed of 35 mph, and with the truck rolling, both dummies fell out of the car after two or three turns each time. (Photo: Chris Stephens)

SNELLVILLE — Public safety is a top priority in Snellville, and the city wanted residents to know that during Tuesday’s Public Safety Night.

With 36 different vendors present and various demonstrations, residents were shown the best and brightest in public safety in the city. From a vehicle rollover demonstration to self-defense to community policing, there was something for everyone.

“It’s important for us to put public safety as a top priority,” Mayor Kelly Kautz said. “We wanted residents to meet our officers and see what the city has to offer.”

Kautz said she and Police Chief Roy Whitehead share the idea of community policing.

“It’s important for residents to be a good citizen and look out for their neighbor,” she said.

Whitehead echoed those sentiments, saying that the police department’s goal is to involve as many people as possible.

“We want people to know that if they see something, call us,” he said. “A lot of people think we’re just here to arrest people and give out tickets. But we’re so much more than that. We want to come alongside this community and be a partner with them.”

One of the big demonstrations of the night was the University of Georgia’s Vehicle Rollover Simulator. The simulator puts child- and adult-like dummies into a truck and simulates what would happen if both weren’t wearing seatbelts and it was in a crash. At a simulated speed of 35 mph, and with the truck rolling, both dummies fell out of the car after two or three turns each time.

“Now, imagine what would happen at 70 or 80 mph on the highway, where most rollover crashes happen,” said Andrew Turnage, who ran the simulator for UGA. “Crashes happen so much every day that we’re almost immune to them. I can’t stress enough how important seatbelts are in saving lives.”

Since Georgia enacted its seatbelt law in 2010, Turnage said studies have shown that usage has gone from about 80 percent to almost 100 percent. Part of that reason is there is a fine associated with not wearing a seatbelt, most notably known as “Click It or Ticket.”

“The fine is only $15, which isn’t that much,” Turnage said. “But it’s a big deal because people don’t like tickets, no matter how much the fine is.

“We want kids and parents to know what can happen if they’re not wearing their seatbelt, even if they’re not concerned with the fine. No amount of money can replace a life.”

For Heather Thomason, having interned at the Snellville Police Department over the summer is what got her interested in bringing her three kids out to the event.

“My kids know safety is important,” she said. “It was good for them to see the rollover demonstration because they can see what happens if they don’t wear their seatbelt. It’s a reality check for parents as well.”

All in all, residents picked up a lot of valuable lessons to use in the future to not only ensure their own safety, but the safety of their neighbors.

“It’s not an us versus them,” Whitehead said. “It’s all about ensuring our community is the safest it can be.”