Officials from the Texas Department of Transportation held a Walmart Safety Day on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the Brownwood Police Department, Brown County Sheriff’s Office, Brownwood Fire Department and Lifeguard EMS.   

The agencies stationed trucks, cars and ambulances in a cordoned-off section of the Walmart parking lot off Commerce St. in Brownwood, while TxDOT handed out information on safe driving and gave demonstrations on a nearby crash simulation machine. One official also represented the Mature Driver Program from Waco’s Baylor Scott & White health center.    

Jeanni Luckey, traffic safety specialist at TxDOT’s Brownwood District office, said the event was designed to reinforce safe driving in a fun and informative way. “We’re reminding everybody to buckle up, wear your seatbelt, don’t talk or text and drive. We have coloring books for the kids and ‘Look Twice for Motorcycles’ information.   

“We’re just out here spreading traffic safety messages,” she said.   

Luckey encouraged drivers not to use cell phones, eat or apply makeup while driving. “Even talking to your children in the back seat is a distraction,” Luckey said.   

She said her department also assists with booster seats and other car safety initiatives. Children, she said, should stay in booster seats until they are four-foot-nine and in the back seat until age 13. “If they’re not four-foot-nine, when the airbag deploys it could hit them in the head,” she said.   

Luckey wanted the community to know that her department provides free booster seat safety checks for locals. “I’ve checked two carseats today already,” she said. “One was using both the anchors and the seat belt at the same time. You use one or the other, so I corrected that. In the other, the seat was moving side to side. You don’t want it to move more than an inch, so I corrected that for her.”   

Locals can call the TxDOT Brownwood District at 325-643-0403 for a free carseat checkup.   

Luckey demonstrated the importance of seat belt safety with the crash simulator, which contained two crash test dummies in a faux truck cabin that tumbled over in midair, simulating a rollover accident. One dummy fell out despite wearing a belt across its lap, reinforcing Luckey’s message that when it comes to traffic safety, it’s better to be very safe than very sorry.