Canada’s home, car and business insurers sponsor Operation Red Nose to combat impaired driving during holidays

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TORONTO, Nov. 19 – Canada’s home, car and business insurers are teaming up with Ontario Safety League to give party-goers a free ride this holiday season.

At a news conference held November 15 at Queen’s Park, the insurance industry announced that it is sponsoring Operation Red Nose (ORN) in seven Ontario communities, as well as others in Alberta and the Atlantic provinces. The popular and unique program offers a volunteer designated-driver service for holiday revelers while raising money for charity. (The service is free, but donations are accepted.)

The event was attended by The Honourable Monte Kwinter, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services; The Honourable Donna Cansfield, Minister of Transportation; and MPPs from many areas where Operation Red Nose will take place.

“Insurers are delighted to be sponsoring such a worthwhile program for the second year in a row. It’s a natural extension of our industry’s long-standing commitment to road safety,” says Mark Yakabuski, Vice-President, Federal Affairs & Ontario, Insurance Bureau of Canada. “Last year, thanks to the industry’s support, approximately 7,400 Ontario impaired drivers were driven home, with the help of 6,400 volunteers. In Newmarket/Aurora, where Operation Red Nose operated for the first time last year, there was not one impaired-related collision reported during the nights that the program was in service.

Canada’s home, car, and business insurers are contributing over $1 million to Operation Red Nose in Ontario, through a grant to the Ontario Safety League to help administer the program and a wide-ranging advertising campaign designed to raise public awareness of ORN and mobilize volunteer drivers. It is also securing insurance coverage for all volunteers.

“Our advertising campaign, which runs from November through January, will raise awareness of Operation Red Nose and help to build on the success we had last year in Newmarket and Aurora,” says Yakabuski. “By raising general awareness of the program, we’re confident we will generate interest that will help bring Red Nose to other GTA communities.”

Ontario Safety League President and General Manager, Brian Patterson explains how the program works. “Commencing in December and continuing throughout much of the holiday season, Operation Red Nose provides a way for holiday revelers, who don’t feel fit to drive, to get themselves — and their cars — home safely. Motorists who call Operation Red Nose are picked up by a team of three volunteers in an escort car, and then driven in their own vehicle to the destination of their choice. The escort car tags along and, at the end of the trip, drives the volunteer team to pick up other clients or back to the local headquarters.”

Operation Red Nose currently operates in Chatham-Kent, Hearst, North Bay, Sudbury, Kingston, Quinte/Belleville, and Newmarket/Aurora. Most operations are active Thursday to Sunday during the month of December. For operation times in those communities, please consult your local papers or www.ibc.ca.

“Impaired motorists pose a danger to public safety,” says Minister Kwinter. “Year after year, cases of impaired driving abound and with them, injuries and deaths. Throughout the holiday season, Ontario citizens will be in a festive mood and attending office and house parties. We applaud Canada’s insurance industry for supporting worthwhile programs like Operation Red Nose.”

“We can all be proud that Ontario’s roads are among the safest in North America, but we recognize that more needs to be done to curb deaths and injuries,” says Minister Cansfield. “With the help of programs like Operation Red Nose, Ontario residents can share in the responsibility to keep our roads as safe as they can be by keeping impaired drivers off the road.”

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the private property and casualty insurance industry. It represents more than 90% of the non-government home, car, and business insurance in Canada. To view news releases and information, visit the media section of IBC’s website at www.ibc.ca.